High school student honors father killed in Afghanistan with ‘angel' senior photos

Julia Yllescas wanted to share one last moment with her father who passed away while serving in Afghanistan in her senior photos, and while her dad couldn’t be with her in the pictures physically, a local photographer and friend helped him to be there in spirit.

“It’s been hard, just knowing that he’s missed so much of my life and my sister’s life,” said Julia.

Her father, Capt. Robert Yllescas, was killed by an IED in Afghanistan in 2008, but his memory continues to live on, and when Julia was taking her senior photos, she wanted her father to be there by her side.

Local photographer Susanne Beckmann has been taking pictures of Julia since the high school senior was 9, and she created the “angel” pictures by incorporating a picture of Julia’s father in uniform standing next to her in with her senior photographs.

“I thought it would be a great idea to do these angel pictures for her as a special gift for her big milestone and to her family,” she said.

Beckmann said her husband, who is in the National Guard, inspired her to create the photographs.

“I take a lot of pictures of military families and it is always an honor for me to capture their special memories,” she added.

Some of those memories for Julia included times her father and the family would spend going boating when he would return home from a deployment.

“One of his coming home gifts was a boat, and so we’d always go boating out on the lake,” Julia said.

She said that when they went boating they would usually go to Texas or Georgia, but since they couldn’t take the senior photos in those locations, they picked a lake in Nebraska that was close to her heart.

Julia said she was completely overwhelmed when she got the pictures on Sunday.

“I was actually at a dance camp and my mom had texted me the pictures, and I was actually on break, and so I stepped outside to look at the pictures, and I just had to recollect myself before I could go back inside,” she said.

“It looked so real, that he was truly there,” she added.

She expressed gratitude that while her father isn’t alive with the family today, the photographs at least make her feel that even for a moment he is still with them.

“It’s so nice to feel as if I do have a piece of him with me,” Julia said.

She says she carries her father with her wherever she goes in the form of a necklace she received on Christmas that has the words “love daddy” inscribed on it in his handwriting.