Statistically, from what I have been told, it is much less common for Navy SEALS to get killed in combat than members any other branch of service. The reason is that they come so close to dying while they are in training, that they gain skills possessed by few that pay off in the field. It costs them dearly to gain those skills, but it benefits them and us. It is always a tragedy when a warrior dies in combat, but when a SEAL passes, again, statistically, it is nearly always in the context of specifically giving himself for others.
Such was the case with Charles Keating, IV, of Arizona. He was killed on Tuesday, May 3rd, helping rescue multitudes from an ISIS/ISIL attack in Iraq. Since 2014, we have re-deployed some of the crème de la crème to Iraq in a largely advisory capacity. While it could certainly be argued that if we had gotten the job done the first time, and stayed long enough for the new Iraq to gain its footing, from my experience, most people who served in Iraq will tell you that the Peshmerga are fierce warriors who are worth fighting with and for, let alone “advise.” Any SEAL with a true warrior’s heart would consider it a privilege to serve with the Peshmerga, and to me, the Kurds are the hope of Iraq against ISIL/ISIS.
Here is what Charles’ mom said about her “boy.” Her name is Krista Joseph of Jacksonville, Fla., and she firmly believed her son wanted to serve his country. She also said that he died doing what he loved. Krista added, “He was our golden boy with a million-dollar smile and a heart of gold.”
Charles was part of the Quick Reaction Force (QRF). He was sent in on an op whose mission to rescue less than a dozen U.S. troops who were in a Kurdish village “advising and assisting” the Peshmerga, according to U.S. military spokesman, Col. Steve Warren. Because of his sacrifice, everyone returned but Charles.
He had been a track star, and transferred from Indiana University to the U.S. Naval Academy in order to begin his SEAL training. He was the grandson of Charles Keating, who was part of the Savings & Loan scandal in the ‘80s, and whose conviction was later overturned. His grandfather had been a pilot in WWII, and Charles IV came from a long line of military service members. The events of 2001 affected Charles IV deeply, and were some of the things that inspired him to become a SEAL. He was also engaged to be married this coming November.
Arizona Senator John McCain had the following to say about him: “I send my deepest prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones of Charlie Keating, who was tragically killed in action fighting ISIL in Iraq. Like so many brave Americans who came before him, Charlie sacrificed his life in honorable service to our nation for a cause greater than self-interest, which we can never truly repay.”
I once attended a service for two SEALS while I was in Iraq. It was held in what was known as The Palace of Doom, or the Mistress Palace. There was an Iraqi Special Forces colonel who, during the service, said, through an interpreter, that he believed that all who gave their lives in order that Iraq might be free would find peace with God, and I don’t believe he was just blowing smoke. He was visibly moved that strangers would want to help, and my 3 years there taught me that this is most definitely the way SEALS roll. I believe Charles Keating IV is at peace, and I hope someday to thank him personally for fighting for my beloved Iraq, and for me.
By: Ali Elizabeth Turner