Firefighters with Queens connections among seven killed in military helicopter crash in Iraq

Lieutenant Christopher Raguso (left) and Fire Marshal Christopher Zanetis were killed on March 15 while serving the New York Air National Guard in Iraq.
Photo via Facebook/FDNY

Two active members of the Fire Department with Queens connections who served our country in the Air National Guard died earlier this week in a helicopter crash while on a tour of duty in Iraq.

Lieutenant Christopher Raguso, 39, of Division 13 in Richmond Hill was serving with fellow members of the New York Air National Guard in Iraq. He and another active member of the Fire Department, Fire Marshal Christopher Zanetis, were on board a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter that struck a power line near the Iraq/Syria border on March 15 and crashed, the Daily News reported. Zanetis lived in Long Island City, according to AMNewYork.

Raguso, Zanetis and five other Air National Guard members on the chopper were killed.

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro announced the deaths of Raguso and Zanetis on March 16. As they were active members of both the FDNY and the military at the time, Raguso and Zanetis are the respective 1,148th and 1,149th Fire Department members killed in the line of duty.

“They are truly two of New York City’s bravest – running into danger to protect and defend others, both in New York City and in combat overseas,” de Blasio said. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to their families, loved ones, and fellow service members and FDNY members.”

“Lieutenant Raguso and Fire Marshal Zanetis bravely wore two uniforms in their extraordinary lives of service – as New York City Firefighters and as members of the United States Armed Forces,” Nigro said. “The hearts and prayers of the entire department are with their loved ones and with the families of their five fellow service members who lost their lives defending our country.”

Raguso joined the FDNY in March of 2005 and was initially assigned to Ladder Company 113 in Brooklyn. He was promoted as a lieutenant in September 2016 and reassigned to Battalion 50, which is based with Engine Company 298 and Ladder Company 127 out of Hillside Avenue in Jamaica. He also served Division 13, headquartered with Squad Company 270 on Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill.

The FDNY noted that Raguso received departmental honors on six different occasions for bravery and other life-saving actions, or for his service to a unit.

Zanetis was also honored numerous times for his service to the FDNY, according to AMNewYork. After nine years as  New York City firefighter, he was appointed a fire marshal in 2013 and assigned to the Fire Investigations Citywide South unit in Brooklyn.

These are the first line-of-duty deaths that the Fire Department has suffered since Firefighter William Tolley, assigned to Ladder Company 135 in Glendale, died last April while responding to a fire in Ridgewood.

Raguso lived in Commack, NY with his wife, Carmela, and their two young daughters, and was a volunteer member of the Commack Fire Department. Zanetis is survived by his parents, John and Sarah, of Carmel, Indiana.

Funeral arrangements have yet to be announced. The FDNY Foundation has established a college scholarship fund for Raguso’s daughters; click here to donate.

Updated on March 17 at 12:35 p.m.

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