The Aug. 16 death of Chief Warrant Officer Suresh Krause solicited countless online tributes to the Army pilot, who was manning a Black Hawk helicopter when it went down near Kandahar, Afghanistan. Those tributes, family members say, are a minor solace.
"He gave us so much love,” said Suzette Krause-Schmidt, the victim’s mother. “It's going to be hard to go on. He was our only child."
Krause, of Cathedral City, was one of seven U.S. service members killed in the Afghanistan crash.
Krause's father, Brian Schmidt, says he knew something was wrong before the government messengers arrived in front of his house with the official word, because his 29-year-old son usually "checks in right away if there's a crash, to let us know."
This time, there was no call.
Schmidt said they anxiously waited at their Indio home for information. Two government workers outside their home delivered the news.
"I turned the corner and I saw them sitting there, and I knew right away,” he said.
Krause, a decorated service member who joined the Army in 2007 and became a Black Hawk pilot two years later, is remembered as an ambitious young man. His mother repreatedly asked he be remembered as a hero, kind and brilliant.
His parents say he knew he wanted to fly by the time he was 14 years old.
"He was given the opportunity to go to flight school in Alabama," Schmidt said.
"He said I want to fly, and that's what he did," Krause- Schmidt added.
Krause was on his second deployment and died four years into a 10-year enlistment.
Two service members from California were killed in the incident, Krause and Sgt. Richard A. Essex, 23, of Kelseyville.
Defense officials identified the other service members killed in the crash as:
- Chief Warrant Officer Brian D. Hornsby, 37, of Melbourne, Fla.
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Petty Officer Technician 1st Class Sean P. Carson, 32, of Des Moines, Wash.
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class Patrick D. Feeks, 28, of Edgewater, Md.
- Sgt. Luis A. Oliver Galbreath, 41, of San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class David J. Warsen, 27, of Kentwood, Mich.
The cause of the crash is under investigation, but a U.S. military officer in Afghanistan speaking on the condition of anonymity told the Los Angeles Times it is "conceivable" that enemy fire took down the Black Hawk.