Trooper-Pilot Bates remembered as a 'happy warrior'

Trooper-Pilot Bates remembered as a 'happy warrior'
Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates (Source: VA State Police)
Lt. H. Jay Cullen (Source: VA State Police)
Lt. H. Jay Cullen (Source: VA State Police)

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Virginia's governor, state police officials, and a hockey club teammate were on hand Friday at the funeral for Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates, who died in Saturday's helicopter crash in Charlottesville. The crash happened during the Unite the Right protest.

"We lost a brother," said Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who told personal stories about Bates.

"He was a happy warrior. He also believed in bringing out the best in everybody," McAuliffe said. "He loved more than oxygen itself that he was a Virginia State Police officer."

Col. Steven Flaherty said Berke had a "100-watt smile" and was "so authentic."

Bates, of Quinton, would have turned 41 years old Sunday. He graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in August 2004 as a member of the 107th Basic Session.

He had just transferred to the Aviation Unit as a Trooper-Pilot in July. Bates is survived by his wife and twin 12-year-old son and daughter.

"His integrity will live on," Flaherty said. "We will never, ever forget him. I promise you."

"Berke would bend heaven and earth to get to a backup call," said Special Agent Benjamin Fargo of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. "If you heard his badge number, you knew you'd be all right."

Bates also leaves behind a wife and two 12-year-old twin children.

"Words cannot express how much he loved his kids. They were his world. It is impossible for someone to be more proud of two people," said Detective Marshall Young, a close friend of Bates.

Bates was also the hockey coach of his son's team. The young teammates wore their jerseys to show admiration for a man who taught them about hockey and life.

"When the game was over... I think we lost 14 to 2... in the locker room, he only had one question, 'Did everyone have fun?' " said Jared Kachurak, a fellow coach and hockey player of Bates.

Kachurak remembered Berke for treating "everyone like family." Berke "was also the team comedian."

You can watch the full funeral below from the Facebook Live stream:

The funeral for Lt. H. Jay Cullen, who also died in the crash, will be held Saturday at 10 a.m. and will also air on NBC12 and online.

Cullen, 48, graduated from the Virginia State Police Academy in May 1994 as a member of the 90th Basic Session.

He first joined the Virginia State Police Aviation Unit in 1999. Cullen is survived by his wife and two sons. He was from Midlothian.

His funeral is at the Southside Church of the Nazarene at 6851 Courthouse Road.

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