Wearing sunglasses and a sleeveless shirt, a cigar hanging from his mouth and a huge gun in his hands, Chief Petty Officer Charles Keating IV looks like a Hollywood action star.
Although the photograph itself was taken as a joke, it’s now an iconic image on the back of a T-Shirt, helping to raising money for two charities in Keating’s name.
The 31-year-old Keating didn’t want the spotlight, but when a Navy SEAL dies in combat, America takes notice.
Keating died on May 3, after taking direct fire during an ISIS-led siege in Iraq.
The shirts surfaced at his memorial service at the request of family members who asked Keating’s friend and clothing company founder Ian Urtnowski to make them and hand them out. All 1,500 shirts disappeared in a flash.
A paragraph on the URT clothing company website explains what happened next:
“After talking to Chuck's closest family, we have decided to make the shirt available for purchase. The proceeds from the shirt will benefit the Navy SEAL Foundation and Charlie's favorite non-profit organization: One More Wave Surf Corp. 1MW's purpose is to make custom boards and wetsuits for veterans who have been wounded in combat. It is what Chuck would've wanted.”
Urtnowski spoke with NBC 7 Monday and called the last two weeks a whirlwind. There has been an overwhelming response from the public.
After getting mentions on social media from movie stars and professional athletes, the company has printed nearly 5,000 shirts.
Urtnowski said his website has crashed 10 times.
The front of the shirt has four letters: “CKIV” which stands for Charles Keating IV. The back of the shirt has the words “Chuck Heavy” along with Keating’s Rambo-esque picture.
“We call it Chuck heavy, cause Charlie’s beer of choice was Budweiser. He didn’t drink Bud Light, he drank Bud Heavy and heavy just sums up the whole emotional feeling for all of us” said Urtnowski.
The shirts sell for $25 on the website.