U.S. Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, died fighting against members of the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS) on May 3, 2016.
Keating was deployed in Tel Askuf, Iraq at the time of his death. He and his fellow U.S. Navy SEALs were performing in an advise and assist role with Kurdish Peshmerga forces when they came under assault from more than 100 enemy fighters.
According to his Silver Star citation, Keating “continually exposed himself to enemy automatic weapon, mortar, and rocket propelled grenade fire as he diligently maneuvered between fighting positions to stop enemy advances.”
“The enemy then attempted to flank his position with a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device,” the citation continues. “At great personal risk, Chief Keating led a team into the open to intercept and neutralize the rapidly closing VBIED threat with precise sniper and rocket fire. His personal bravery throughout the engagement inspired his comrades to vigorously defend their position and repel the enemy’s assault.”
Keating was ultimately killed in the battle by enemy gunfire.
A foundation was established in Keating’s honor and members of the Navy SEAL and special operations community have continued to honor his legacy.
On Tuesday, the Charles Keating IV Foundation tweeted, “6 years ago today we lost a true American hero, Charles Keating IV who was killed in combat in Telskuf, Iraq. Charlie selflessly gave his life defending his SEAL brothers & the people from the town of Telskuf. #C4Foundation #ChuckHeavy #May3 #LLTB #AlohaWarrior #NeverForget.”
The foundation has held an annual paddle in honor of Keating. The foundation held this year’s gathering on Saturday, at the Glorietta Bay Park in Coronado, California.
One Twitter user said, “I was lucky enough to participate in the annual paddle out for Charles Keating IV in Coronado this weekend. Beers were shared, stories told, poems were read, and a fucking legend was celebrated. Below photo is old school frogman Lance reading the poem ‘If’. Celebrate life.”
On Tuesday, retired SEAL chief Tim Wood also tweeted, “On this day we lost Charles Keating the 4th, the infamous ‘Chuck Heavy.’ Respect wild man. @CKIVFoundation #ChuckHeavy.”
Keating had been an accomplished track and cross country athlete and had been on Indiana Univeristy’s track and field team from 2004 through 2006. The team finished second in the Big Ten during both the 2004-2005 indoor and outdoor seasons.
Following Keating’s death in 2016, his former IU cross country coach Robert Chapman said, “When Charlie left IU to enlist and try to become a SEAL, I don’t think it really surprised any of us. 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.”
Former IU teammate Stephen Haas said, “”I’m sure you are going to hear a lot about what a bad ass Navy SEAL Charlie was, and I’m sure he was the baddest. I think me and my teammates at IU will always remember him for being the most likable guy in the room with the biggest smile. Charlie was such a nice guy and everyone loved being around him. He was such a goof with no worries in the world. I don’t think I ever saw him upset. He loved having a good time and his attitude was contagious.”