The community is remembering a fallen hero with ties to Northeast Florida.
The U.S. military said Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV was killed while saving others from the Islamic State group in Iraq this week.
Keating, 31, an Arizona native, was the third American combat death since the U.S. redeployed in Iraq in 2014.
Keating was a decorated combat veteran but to his loved ones in Northeast Florida, he was just Charlie, the fun-loving and outgoing son and brother they loved dearly.
“I am so proud of my boy,” Keating’s mother, Krista Joseph, said.
Becoming a Navy SEAL is something Keating’s mother and stepfather, Ron Joseph, said he dreamed about since he was a young boy.
“He had a poster on his wall at 8 years old, and this was what he wanted to do,” Krista Joseph said.
The Josephs said it was no surprise when Keating enlisted in the Navy in 2007.
Keating was awarded a Bronze Star for Valor after he helped his fellow Navy SEALS who had been ambushed by terrorists.
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“He was always there to help and do what he had to do and help his teammates,” Ron Joseph said.
“I knew he’d run out and help,” Krista Joseph said.
The U.S. military said Keating once again took heroic actions this week in Iraq.
A team of military advisors were attacked by ISIS north of Mosul. Keating was part of a force sent in to save them.
“I talked to him the day before,” Krista Joseph said. “Facetime. Got to see him and thank God.”
Krista Joseph said that was the last conversation she had with her oldest son.
"I went to sleep, woke up in the morning and saw that someone was killed where he was,” Krista Joseph said. “I knew it was him.”
“Probably the worst thing you ever want to see is four Navy guys standing at your front door with grim faces on,” Ron Joseph said.
The Josephs said Keating leaves behind four siblings, including a brother who followed in his footsteps and is now a Navy SEAL himself.
Keating’s family said they want the community to remember him as a man put others before himself even in the very end.
“He was a hero, and I’m so glad that hopefully he’ll be remembered,” Krista Joseph said.
Keating’s family said he was expected to return home from deployment in August and had plans to get married in November.
Cox Media Group