Charles. Charlie. Chuck. Chuckles. C4. Depending on who you asked, his name varied.
You knew the degree to which they knew him by what name they used. His parents and wife called him Charlie. His brothers at arms called him Chuck even though they knew his wife hated that nickname. His closest buddies referred to him as the lighthearted, always ready to joke Chuckles. And the priest called him C4 because of his name, Charles H. Keating IV.
Charlie’s entire college track team came from all over, even one of them making the trip from China, just to pay their respects.
Charlie’s best friend from grade school traversed to California. We randomly ran into him at the Navy SEAL bar, “Danny’s,” which was the place Charlie last frequented before he went off to war the next morning.
Charlie’s grade school friend started telling me about how Charlie was the first person to pick him in a dodgeball game, and they became fast friends soon afterwards. He reminisced about playing paintball with Charlie, and how he had always wanted to be a Navy SEAL and he still remembered Chuck gunning down the last surviving member of the other team before they won.
Charlie was the only person he had ever met that could talk so much smack and be so competitive, but yet still everyone loved him. They said it was because of his wide, square smile and his genuine love for people. All people, any kind of person, he showed respect and valued them. And though he trash talked a lot before a game or a contest, he lived up to it and never got beat.
Charlie’s mother said that he truly believed that everyone had value. Even the newest guy to a team had something new to bring to the team, so they should be respected. You will learn something from everyone you meet. And we learned a lot from Charlie, who we didn’t get the chance to meet… In this life.
Charlie was the heart and soul of SEAL team 1. They broadcasted the service live to his brothers overseas, who couldn’t attend. Their wives all sat by the camera, and jumped up, waving into the broadcast, saying hello to their dear ones. What the team will do now without their most beloved team member, I do not know. He will be sorely missed. He, according to his teammates, is irreplaceable.
But he died doing what he loved with people that he loved. He died while saving his Seal brothers under fire.