PHOENIX, May 4 (UPI) — The Navy SEAL killed in battle with the Islamic State near Mosul, Iraq, has been identified as Arizona native Charlie Keating IV.
Keating, 31, is the third American combat casualty in Iraq since the United States redeployed forces in the summer of 2014 to conduct special operations against the Islamic State — also known as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL — and to advise and train the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga.
“He is our family hero in every sense of the word,” cousin Elizabeth Ann Keating told CNN.
The Pentagon said Keating — known as “C-4” by family and friends — died Tuesday during a “coordinated and complex attack” carried out by about 100 Islamic State militants who breached a Peshmerga defensive position.
“This sad news is a reminder of the dangers our men and women in uniform face every day in the ongoing fight to destroy ISIL and end the threat the group poses to the United States and the rest of the world. Our coalition will honor this sacrifice by dealing ISIL a lasting defeat,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey ordered all state flags to be lowered to half-staff from sunrise to sunset Wednesday in honor of Keating. Flags will also be lowered on the day of Keating’s burial.
“Our state and nation are in mourning today over the loss of a U.S. serviceman — and one of America’s finest,” Ducey said in a statement. “His death is a tragic reminder of the daily sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform — fighting evil and extremism on the front lines to protect freedom and democracy at home and throughout the world.”
Officials said there was no evidence the Islamic State knew American service members were at the Peshmerga position at the time of the attack. Keating was part of a small team advising the Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq. The Islamic State attack occurred while they were checking on outposts.
“It’s horrible, and it breaks my heart,” Conley Wolfswinkel, a close friend of the Keating family, told The Arizona Republic. “My heart goes out to the family. No one deserves this.”