Grieving Teen Honors Army Dad Killed In Afghanistan With Heartwarming Senior Photos

Grieving Teen Honors Army Dad Killed In Afghanistan With Heartwarming Senior Photos

As she started her last year of high school in Aurora, Nebraska, she had a photographer edit an angelic visage of her father onto her senior photos so that he could be with her during the most monumental moment of her life.

Every year on Memorial Day, we honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Their selfless choices and actions are the reason why millions of Americans live and sleep in safety and security.  Julia Yllescas from Aurora, Nebraska lost her father in the war in Afghanistan back in 2008.



Julia was only 7 years old when her father, Army Ranger Capt. Robert Yllescas was deployed to Afghanistan. Julia told CNN that "It's been extremely, extremely tough growing up without her father" and that "It gets harder and harder every year".





And now, as she enters into her final year of high school in Aurora, she made a photographer edit an angelic silhouette of her dearly departed father onto her senior photos, so it looks like he is with her during what she claims as "the most monumental moment of her life".

It's truly wonderful to see technology and digital innovation being used for such heartwarming purposes. Years from now, she can look back at this and almost feel like he was actually there. 



According to CNN, her father was injured by an improvised explosive device while serving on active duty in Afghanistan in 2008. He was brought back to the US where he received treatment at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. Unfortunately, he succumbed to his injuries and passed away within a month of arrival.



Captain Robert Yllescas is prominently mentioned in CNN Anchor Jake Tapper's book "The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor" which was released in 2012. The book has been made into a feature film that will be released later this year. Milo Gibson, the son of veteran actor and director Mel Gibson, will play Captain Yllescas in the movie. 

Julia said she and her mother will be in the audience at a private screening of the film in Washington this October before it hits theaters. She'll watch a scene that shows her dad walking across a bridge, a moment that ultimately leads to his death.



The photographer who took her senior photo and edited her late father's silhouette onto the image said that she had been taking photos of Julia since he was 9 years old. Susanne Beckmann, the photographer, posted the photos of her and her edited father's profile on Facebook on Sunday night.

"This was just supposed to be something special I was doing for one of my customers," Beckmann told CNN. "I've never seen a reaction like this to my photos," Beckmann affirmed that after her post started being shared around a lot, she began to get calls from other families who wanted the same thing done with their lost loved ones. 



Over a decade has passed since Julia lost her brave father, but she still feels grief and sadness often. "It hurts and it's absolutely suffocating," she says. It can hit even in random moments, and simple things can "bring the heartache back up to the surface." 





Julia tearfully described how she wanted him to be there for all the important moments of her life, like her first day of freshman year or her first breakup, or her performing as a cheerleader or signing with the school choir. All the memories she has of him are from her younger days in Texas and Georgia where her father was transferred to, as part of his active army service.

Her tears turn to laughter as she remembered how her father "was a jokester" and often played tricks on her.  If she got a chance to see her father again, "I would ask him if he's proud of me," she said. "And I would ask to go to the lake with him."


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