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Navy veteran stops in Iowa on nationwide tour to honor fallen service members

Posted: 7:01 PM, Aug 21, 2019
Updated: 2019-08-22 00:07:30-04
Navy vet preserving stories of Gold Star families

TREYNOR, Iowa (KMTV) — Retired Navy Veteran Keith Sherman is on a mission to record the stories of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, across the country, for the Library of Congress.

Wednesday, he visited Treynor, Iowa, the 40th stop on his tour.

“It’s been wonderful to see the fabric of America,” Sherman said. “Today is the quintessential example of that. Driving through corn fields for 15 miles on dirt roads to come out here to a farm to come out here to talk about, you know.”

“You just don't want any other family to go through what you've gone through,” Barbara Yllescas-Vorthmann, Gold Star Mother said.

Sherman interviews Yllescas about her son, Captain Robert Yllescas, he was part of Troop B, 6th Squadron, 4th Cavalry Regiment, 3 Bct, Fort Hood, Texas supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. He died Dec. 1, 2008, from an explosion. Yllescas was 31 years old.

“They are more than just a name on a wall somewhere,” Sherman said. “There is a story behind the name and there are families that are forever affected.”

“From the time he was little it was always, I'm going to be in the military,” Yllescas-Vorthmann said. “I'm going to be a General. It wasn't anything but a General.”

Capt. Yllescas deployed twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan.

“When he left for Afghanistan he had bad feeling he wasn't going to come back,” Yllescas-Vorthmann said. “It was a very dangerous, dangerous area. One of the biggest fears of a mother is that her child will be forgotten that her sacrifice will be forgotten and that he will die a second death when she dies. This means a lot to all we mothers that we can tell our child’s story.”

Her granddaughter, Julia, is keeping his memory alive too. She asked her photographer to add her guardian angel to her senior portraits.

“It almost felt when I saw those pictures that he truly was there,” Julia Yllescas said.

"I was teary eyed when I was editing them,” Suzanne Beckmann, Snapshots by Suz said. “All I could think in my head is I don't ever want to have to do this for my own kids."

Capt. Yllesca's memory and sacrifice lives on in pictures and our nation’s oldest archives, the Library of Congress.

“Forever for everybody to see hundreds of years from now,” Sherman said. “Their grandchildren and grandchildren’s grandchildren.”

Thursday, Sherman is continuing his tour in Nebraska. He is visiting with the family of Sergeant Cory Mracek a soldier from Hay Springs who was killed in Iraq in 2004.