The mother of Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, killed fighting ISIS in Iraq, spoke about her son’s life and death Wednesday.
Krista Keating-Joseph said she had a sick feeling about her son Charlie the night before the news broke, perhaps a mother's intuition.
“I woke up in the morning and saw one U.S. soldier was killed and I knew it was him,” she said.
Keating, a 31-year-old Navy petty officer 1st Class, died Tuesday about 14 miles north of Mosul in a complicated attack launched by 125 ISIS fighters, Pentagon officials said. Keating was part of a small force sent to fend off the attack.
Keating-Joseph said he was mortally wounded by a bullet that slipped under his body armor.
She enjoyed a close relationship with the son she called Charlie, even though her marriage to his father broke up when he was just 3. From her home in Ponte Vedra, Florida, she described Keating as wanting to protect and save people.
“I'm so proud of him,” Keating-Joseph said. “He's my hero, he's our family's hero.”
“The sad thing is he could have done so much more had he lived a little longer,” she added.
Keating-Joseph is proud of the way Charlie lived his life, his bravery in battle and love of country.
“I will never forget his 150-percent attitude, his positive attitude, his million-dollar smile, his eyes that twinkle,” she said. "He made everyone his best friend."
Now it is her turn to be strong as she brings him home.
Keating-Joseph said it was her son's wish to be buried as closely as possible to Coronado Amphibious Naval Base in San Diego, California. He wanted to be near his beloved SEAL Team One, she said, instead of Arlington National Cemetery.
The journey to bring Keating home began Thursday. His mother and the rest of the family were on their way to Dover Air Force Base, where they will receive the fallen SEAL’s body Friday morning. Funeral services are planned for May 12.
A grandson of an Arizona financier involved in the 1980s savings and loan scandal, Keating is the third U.S. service member to be killed in combat in Iraq since U.S. forces returned there in 2014.
In addition to the American quick-reaction force on the ground, 31 American aircraft — including 29 warplanes and two drones — launched 11 airstrikes, killing 58 ISIS fighters, according to Pentagon officials.
Two medical helicopters were struck by ISIS ground fire. The aircraft returned safely to base, according to Col. Steve Warren, the U.S. military's main spokesman in Baghdad.
Keating lived in Coronado with his wife, Brooke, and her family. The two married before he deployed, the family tells NBC 7.