Nebraska teen pays touching tribute to fallen Army father in senior photos
A Nebraska teenager's senior photos have gone viral for honoring her father, who succumbed to injuries he sustained while serving abroad in 2008.
Julia Yllescas, who attends high school in Aurora, Neb., lost her father, Army Ranger Capt. Robert Yllescas, when she was just 7 years old, according to CNN.
"It hurts and it's absolutely suffocating," Julia said of his absence.
The father and daughter had shared plenty of memorable moments — from playfully wrestling with each other to boating — while living near bases in Texas and Georgia, Julia said. But 11 years ago, Robert was injured by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan and flown to a medical center in Maryland, where he died a month later.
To pay tribute to her father, Julia asked photographer Susanne Beckmann to edit two of her senior photos to include a transparent portrait of him. In both images, Julia is wearing military dog tags and interacting with her father's seemingly heavenly visage.
"I can't even put into words how it makes me feel, knowing he's still with me," the teenager told CNN.
Beckmann, who has reportedly taken Julia's photos since she was 9 years old, posted the altered photos on Facebook on Sunday, unexpectedly drawing hundreds of comments.
"Amazing!!! God Bless this young lady and her family!!! Big Thank You to her Dad!!!" one person wrote.
"What a beautiful young lady," another said. "The expression on her face shows a sadness that goes deep. She should be so proud of her dad, as we all want to say Thank you sir for your service, and giving your life for your country. God Bless."
Amid the overwhelming number of responses, Beckmann, who is a military wife, told KOLN that she was just thankful for the opportunity to do something special for Julia.
"I was teary-eyed when I was editing them, all I could think in my head is, I don't ever want to have to do this for my own kids," she said.