Two FDNY firefighters dead in Iraq helicopter crash

Lt. Christopher Raguso (l.) and Fire Marshall Christopher Zanetis died in Iraq on March 15.
By Gina Martinez

The FDNY is mourning the death of two Queens-based firefighters who were among the casualties of an Iraqi helicopter crash.

Lt. Christopher J. Raguso, of Division 13 in Richmond Hill, and Fire Marshal Christopher T. “Tripp” Zanetis, of Long Island City died in an American military helicopter crash in Iraq March 15 that claimed seven lives.

Raguso was a 13-year veteran of the department and Zanetis was a 10-year veteran, serving his third tour of duty. The helicopter, a HH-60 Pave Hawk, went down in the Western Iraq city of Qaim. According to reports, the helicopter may have had a technical malfunction or struck overhead power lines.

There are currently 62 FDNY personnel on extended military orders in the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces around the world and more than 1,400 FDNY members are military reservists or veterans.

Before Raguso and Zanetis, the last FDNY member to die while in active military service was Firefighter Christian P. Engledrum, who was killed in action on Nov. 29, 2004, in Iraq.

Both men were well respected career firefighters. According to FDNY, Raguso became a firefighter in March 2005 and assigned to Ladder Company 113 in Flatbush. In September 2016, he was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to Battalion 50 in Jamaica. Raguso was cited for bravery and life-saving actions on six different occasions.

Zanetis was appointed a firefighter in September 2004 and assigned to Engine Company 28 on the Lower East Side. In 2007, he transferred to Ladder Company 11 in Manhattan and in April 2013 he was promoted to fire marshal and assigned to the Bureau of Fire Investigation’s Citywide South in Brooklyn. He was recognized for his bravery as part of an investigative unit in 2014.

FDNY Commissioner DanielNigro commended the men for their bravery and offered his condolences to their families.

“Lt. 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,” he 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.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio also offered condolences on behalf of all New Yorkers.

“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,” he said.

Among the others who died in the crash were Long Island residents, Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station, and Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches.

Reach Gina Martinez by e-mail at gmartinez@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4566.

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