An American soldier who died protecting Christians under intense fire from Islamic State (ISIS) fighters is being remembered for his courage and "incredible" heroism.
U.S. Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, 31, was killed in action on May 3, 2016 when ISIS launched a major assault on the Christian town of Telskuf in Iraq, reports say.
Accounts of that battle have been well covered by the media, but one thing that was not well documented was who exactly he died protecting, according to Faithwire.
The news outlet interviewed the commander of Peshmerga forces in the area during that time, Nineveh Plains Force Commander Safa Elyas, who provided new information on Keating and how his heroism will be long remembered.
Safa said on the morning of May 3rd, they learned that ISIS was mobilizing its forces and preparing a major attack on Telskuf, an ancient Christian town in the Nineveh Plains, which is an area that dates back to Biblical days.
In the battle that followed, which raged for hours, Safa said Keating was called to help repulse the ISIS attack. He said Keating came not only to support the Peshmerga but also to defend Christian civilians in the town.
Safa said it was the fiercest battle his men had engaged in, and it lasted for five to six hours.
He said more than 430 ISIS fighters were attacked, and his men backed up by American forces killed them all, except for three or four who survived.
Although they won the battle, 20 percent of the town was destroyed due to rocket fire and aerial bombardment, he said.
Safa said Keating was one of five American soldiers in the town when ISIS attacked. He said the attackers initially drove them out of the town, but the U.S. soldiers came back aboard an armored vehicle. "They fought until they run out of ammunition. The American martyr [Keating] was killed at the battle by a sniper," Safa said.
Keating also distinguished himself in an earlier battle also against ISIS on March 4, 2016 for which he was awarded the Silver Star, America's third-highest award for valor in combat, the Washington Post reported.
A copy of Keating's award citation obtained by The Post states that his "courageous leadership, tactical acumen, and physical courage were the key factors" in halting the ISIS assault.
A GoFundMe page was set up for Keating by his best friend, Rob Morgan of Houston, Texas, who said the donations will go to two foundations in Keating's name.
Morgan lauded his friend for being the "true definition of an American Hero."
He recalled what Keating once told him: "Anything worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
That anything includes his love for family, friends, and country. "Charlie loved America more than anyone I ever met," Morgan said.