When Julia was just seven years old she never could have imagined the emptiness that lie ahead for herself and her family in the decade to come. Julia was just at seven years of age when her father, Army Ranger Capt. Robert Yllescas, deployed to Afghanistan to fight in a war, he never came home from.
Injured by an improvised explosive device in 2008 in Afghanistan, Captain Yllescas left behind a family in Aurora, Nebraska and a very special daughter, without a father.
It has been eleven years since that fateful moment in time, as his daughter Julia now heads into her final year of high school. The memory of her father never leaving her side, at a moment in her life she longs for him to be there.
That’s where photographer Susanne Beckmann comes in. Beckmann, of Snapshots by Suz, has been taking pictures of Julia since she was 9 years old and decided to do something special to honor this legacy of life and love.
So on Saturday, after taking Julia’s senior photos, Beckmann created two angel photos – something she says she wanted to do as a special gift for the teen’s big milestone, and the family.
In one picture, Julia dons military dog tags as a necklace while holding a folded American flag. In Beckmann’s final edit, Captain Yllescas stands beside her.
“I was teary-eyed when I was editing them,” Beckmann said. “All I could think in my head is I don’t ever want to have to do this for my own kids.”
“What you did was amazing and it touched my heart. It is a special way to honor them both. It is never just one that serves, it is the family that serves. Please message me if you charged a fee for this service.”
“This is one of the best photos ever! It is amazing and very creative that the photographer even thought this up. Truly special!!!”
Captain Yllescas was targeted while serving in Afghanistan. He stepped on an IED and passed away weeks later as a result of his injuries.
He is featured in CNN anchor Jake Tapper’s book “The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor,” released in 2012.
Milo Gibson, the son of Mel Gibson, will play Yllescas in an upcoming film based on the book to be released later this year.
Julia told CNN 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.
Cover photo: Photographer Susanne Beckmann.