News

Actions

Navy SEAL killed in Iraq based in Coronado

Posted at 12:46 PM, May 03, 2016

A Navy SEAL killed in an attack in Iraq was based in Coronado, 10News confirmed.

Charlie Keating, 31, died early Tuesday morning in an attack 17 miles north of Mosul, a city controlled by ISIS fighters, according to military officials.

Keating attended the Naval Academy before becoming a Navy SEAL based out of Naval Base Coronado.

He's the third American serviceman to die in combat in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition launched its campaign against the Islamic State in the summer of 2014, according to military officials.
 
"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," U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement.
 
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all state flags be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset Wednesday in honor of Keating, who also was the cousin of former Olympic swimming champion Gary Hall Jr.

A 2004 graduate of Phoenix's Arcadia High School, Keating was city and region champion in the 1,600-meter run as a sophomore, junior and senior.

Keating earned all-city and first-team all-state honors as a senior, according to Indiana University, where he ran cross country and track on scholarship.

"When Charlie left IU to enlist and try to become a SEAL, I don't think it really surprised any of us," said Robert Chapman, professor of kinesiology at IU Bloomington, who served as Indiana men's cross country coach from 1998-2007. "You could tell he was a guy who wanted to be the best and find out what he was made of, and serving as special operations forces for his country embodied that."

Keating's grandfather, Charles H. Keating Jr., who died in 2014 at age 90, was the notorious financier who served prison time for his role in the costliest savings and loan failure of the 1980s.

The scandal also shook the political world. Five senators who received campaign donations from Charles Keating Jr. -- McCain, Democrat Alan Cranston of California, Democrat John Glenn of Ohio, Democrat Donald W. Riegel Jr. of Michigan and Democrat Dennis DeConcini of Arizona -- were accused of impropriety for appealing to regulators on Keating's behalf in 1987.
 
10News learned Keating was going to get married in November, and family friend Robert Whitley posted a photo of Keating and his fiancee on Facebook with a caption that read, in part: "Charlie, a Navy Seal on a dangerous mission in Iraq, was shot and killed last night."

Keating was close to his friends and family. Loved ones say he was tough, yet polite. Strong, yet nice.

A person close to the family said Keating's fiancée just picked up her wedding dress.

"His wedding announcement is on my refrigerator. He was getting married in November. I'm just devastated" friend Bret Timmons told 10News' sister station, ABC 15 in Phoenix.

Timmons said he met Keating in high school in Arizona and they became lifelong friends.

"He was always late, because he was running, and he always had a peanut butter bagel from Einstein’s, without fail," Timmons said.

Keating was advising Kurdish Peshmerga forces and reportedly two or three miles behind the front lines before the attack was launched.

Officials said ISIS forces used truck bombs to penetrate the front lines, and the SEAL's position was attacked with small-arms fire.

Just a few days ago, the USS Harry S. Truman carrier strike group's deployment was extended by one month in an effort to continue putting pressure on ISIS.

U.S. and coalition forces launched an intense air attack, with American fighter jets and drones blasting ISIS targets with about two dozen bombs.

“You are supposed to know they are going to be in harm's way, but when you are talking about a guy like Charlie, a superhero, you don't think something like that could actually happen," said Charlie’s cousin, Liz Keating told WCPO.

He came from a long line of men who had served their country, Liz Keating said.

“He was just kind of is the guy that everybody looks up to, the guy everybody wants to be around, the guy everybody wants to be,” Liz Keating said.

A person close to Keating's Coronado family said he was kind, polite and always willing to lend a hand.

“It's the job you sign up for. You know what you’re getting yourself into. But it still hurts nonetheless. It'll always hurt when you lose a friend like that,” Timmons said. "I'm really going to miss him.”