PHOENIX - A Navy SEAL from the Valley who was based out of Coronado, California, was killed Tuesday by a sniper's bullet in the fight against ISIS overseas.
Charlie Keating IV graduated from Arcadia High School in Phoenix in 2004, where he built a strong bond with one of his coaches, Coach Rob Reniewicki.
Reniewicki, who also teaches at Arcadia, told 12 News Charlie was his number-one runner for cross country all four years. He also shared how Keating's death is impacting his family and friends.
“It was pretty big of a blow. I mean, I was pretty devastated,” he said, “His wedding invitation is on my refrigerator and I started working with him when he was in 6th grade -- So, I’ve known him since he was 13 years old ... I was just mortified."
Charlie was a star athlete at Arcadia High School. Rob remembers when the team returned from a specific cross country practice on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Everybody was telling us what was happening,” he said. “The boys on that team -- Charlie included -- were so impacted by that, that a lot of those boys -- including Charlie -- decided to serve their country after that.”
Rob has been in touch with Charlie’s mom and knows Charlie’s family would want him to be remembered in this way: “Just that he was a happy young man, that he served his country and that they loved him,” Reniewicki said.
Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday said, “Our state and nation are in mourning today over the loss of a U.S. serviceman – and one of America’s finest. Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV, a graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix, was killed this morning in an ISIS attack near the city of Kabul, in Iraq.
“Mr. Keating is the third American service member to be killed in direct combat in our nation’s fight against ISIS. 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.
“Our thoughts, prayers and eternal gratitude are with Mr. Keating, his family, his fellow SEALs, and all of the brave Americans who’ve answered the call to serve.
“In honor of Navy SEAL and Arizona hero Charlie Keating IV, I’ve directed that all state flags be lowered to half-staff tomorrow, May 4, from sunrise to sunset. Flags will again be lowered on the day of his interment, for which services are pending.”
NBC 7 San Diego has confirmed Keating was with SEAL Team One, based out of Coronado.
U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement on the death of Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV, who was killed in action in Iraq:
“I send my deepest prayers and condolences to the family and loved ones of Charlie Keating who was tragically killed in action fighting ISIL in Iraq. 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.”
A U.S. official says Keating was killed during an attack on Iraqi Kurdish positions outside the IS-held city of Mosul on Tuesday morning. Mosul is Iraq's second-largest city and it has been in the hands of ISIS militants since 2014, according to The Associated Press.
It was the third death of a U.S. service member in Iraq since the U.S.-led coalition launched its campaign against IS militants in the summer of 2014. Defense Secretary Ash Carter called it a "combat death."
According to the Union-Tribune, Keating, 31, who was engaged to be married to a woman in Coronado in November, was the grandson of developer and banker Charles Humphrey Keating Jr., who was well-known for his role in the 1980s-era savings and loan scandal.
The official identifying the serviceman as a SEAL was speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the incident publicly.
The Obama administration says the death of a third U.S. service member since the military stepped-up its fight against the Islamic state group in Iraq is not a sign that U.S. troops are becoming actively involved in the fight. The Pentagon has slowly expanded the American military role in fighting the group since the summer of 2014. Its strategy aims to ensure that the Iraqis do the ground combat, supported by U.S. airpower and special operations advisers.
U.S. military officials told NBC News that Keating was killed by direct fire about 2 to 3 miles behind the Peshmerga's forward line after ISIS fighters breached the position. Keating was advising Peshmerga forces when the attack happened.
The Pentagon says this was a large-scale attack with truck bombs and small arms.
Three Peshmerga soldiers were also killed in the attack.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.