Teen honors father killed in Afghanistan with special graduation photos

A Nebraska teen who was just a kid when her father died as a result of an IED explosion in Afghanistan more than a decade ago found a way to honor him in her high school graduation pictures.

Aurora High School senior Julia Yllescas requested a photographer to create an "angel picture" of her and her father, Army Capt. Robert Yllescas.

The photos show Yllescas with a faint shadow version of her father. One shows them sitting down on a bench. In another, Yllescas holds a folded American flag while standing next to him in uniform.

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Julia Yllescas stands next to a faint image of her father, Robert, who died after an IED attack in 2008 in Afghanistan. She had his image added to her graduation photos to honor his memory. 

Julia Yllescas stands next to a faint image of her father, Robert, who died after an IED attack in 2008 in Afghanistan. She had his image added to her graduation photos to honor his memory.  (Snapshots by Suz)

"Why it has hit my heart so hard is that I almost felt when I saw those pictures that he truly was there,” the teen told  KOLN-TV. "And to have a piece of him with me throughout my senior year. Because sometimes it feels like where are you, why did you have to go?"

The elder Yllescas was injured by an IED in Afghanistan in 2008. He died a month later at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., and was buried in Nebraska.

Photographer Susanne Beckmann, an active-duty military wife who's known the Yllescas family for many years, said she was teary-eyed editing the photos.

Julia Yllescas sits next to her father on a bench. She had his image added to her graduation photos to honor his memory. 

Julia Yllescas sits next to her father on a bench. She had his image added to her graduation photos to honor his memory.  (Snapshots by Suz)

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"All I could think in my head is I don't ever want to have to do this for my own kids,” she said.

"Just to have that on my wall and be like no, he is with me, even though I can't physically see him,” said Yllescas.