INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Friends and family of Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV are continuing to mourn his death, while celebrating the life he lived.
“He loved what he did,” said Eric Redman, Keating’s freshman year roommate and cross country teammate. “So as the day progressed and last night, I was a little less sad and more proud that he did his job until the end.”
The 31-year-old was killed Tuesday morning during a shootout with Islamic state fighters in Iraq.
His former teammates say they’re still struggling to process the news.
“It was really, really shocking, what happened to Charlie,” said Tyler McCreary, a teammate of Keating’s.
“I just kind of, I guess, broke down,” said Redman. “I was at lunch and I was driving back to the office and got the text and I just pulled over the car and just had to have a moment. It was tough.”
Now, the team is moving on to remembering the good times with Keating and how proud they were of his service to the country.
“I spent the last ten years telling anybody who would listen about how my buddy is one of the best soldiers in the country,” said Redman.
Ten years ago though, Redman was shocked to hear his roommate was leaving college early to enlist, with hopes of becoming a SEAL.
“When he was on the team at IU, he was like, the goofiest kid, the least military guy that you’d ever think of from a stereotypical hard, Navy SEAL guy,” Redman said. “Nothing like that.”
McCreary says instead, Charlie was the kid who could always be counted on to cheer others up.
“A lot of us would get done after a bad race, a bad workout and Charlie was always the kid who would always come and cheer you up, even if he didn’t really mean to,” McCreary said. “He was just always smiling and you’d walk into the same room as him and his attitude and his personality was just contagious.”
Looking back, they say it’s easier to see why joining the SEALs was a good fit for Keating. For one, it was a chance for Keating to chart his own path amidst his family’s legacy. Keating’s father, uncle and cousin were all Olympians.
“I think he was looking to carve out his own niche, his own legacy I guess within his family,” said Redman. “The athletic background was there, but he was looking for something that he could make his own and use his talents for and it turned out to be the perfect thing for him to go into the Navy.”
But the most salient reason SEALs and Keating made the perfect match, according to both McCreary and Redman, was his courage.
“He was very fearless in the way he went about his life,” said McCreary. “Tons of experiences where he had no fear about doing anything.”
“I think that that probably helped him tremendously, when he was in the military, when he was overseas and in a situation like he probably faced this week," said Redman.
Fearlessness and kindess were the two traits Keating was most known for and the ones his former teammates are celebrating now as they move from mourning his death to celebrating his life.
“He loved what he did,” Redman said. “So I can be sad, but at the same time I don’t think he would’ve had it any other way.”
Both men say they’re most saddened by how much life Keating had to live. He was engaged, set to get married this November.
Redman says he and others plan to fly out to San Diego, where Keating was stationed, for a memorial service in the coming weeks.