CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - The family of a local soldier killed in Afghanistan last week has announced funeral plans for the fallen hero.
U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer Suresh Krause was killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash in Afghanistan last week. Loved ones say the Cathedral City High School graduate was a brave man who chose a life of service and died doing what he loved.
Krause's body will be laid to rest Thursday at 10am at Forest Lawn Mortuaries in Cathedral City. The service with full military honors will follow at Desert Memorial Park in Palm Springs.
The infectious smile of their 29-year-old son is one of the many things Suzie Krause-Schmidt and Brian Schmidt say they'll miss most. U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Suresh N.A. Krause, was one of seven U.S. soldiers killed in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan on Thursday.
"My son didn't have to go like this, but he did what he enjoyed," said Krause-Schmidt.
Krause, born in Sri Lanka, was 14 years old when he was adopted and brought to the U.S. by his aunt Suzie and uncle Brian -- leaving behind his biological parents Daya and Yolette Abayasekara to live in the Coachella Valley. In 2009, the Abayasekaras also moved to the desert.
Krause graduated from Cathedral City High School in 2001 and later earned a degree in aeronautical science in Arizona.
"Ba," short for baby, is what his family called him -- and boy do they say Ba was born to fly.
"I always told him, 'Ba, if that's what you love, you go and do it,'" said Krause-Schmidt.
His family returned Monday night from Delaware. It was a painful journey after the body transfer of their fallen soldier.
"I say that's when it truly hit me. Watching his body come off, I don't wish that upon anyone. The rest of the families from the helicopter were there. It was heart-wrenching," said Schmidt.
Now the family is using Facebook as a photo journal all about Ba. They're sharing memories with strangers to them, but friends and loved ones of the Black Hawk pilot.
"When I think about Ba, he was a driven individual. He had a passion for life," said Krause's uncle Brody Schmidt.
Krause's family now holding tight to the good times and remembering his love for his mom's chicken curry and air guitar sessions with dad.
Brian says, "His favorite, 'Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me,' he was probably the worst Elton John."
The Schmidts say they're proud of their only child, who received multiple awards and decorations for his service and paid the ultimate sacrifice for his country.
"I loved him very much. I'm really going to miss him ... A lot of people will." said his father.
They plan to carry on his legacy by creating a scholarship foundation in his honor.