In March four Long Island New York Air National Guard officers assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach , deployed to the Mideast, who were killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.
Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, a 30-year-old Riverhead native, Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe of Center Moriches, Capt. Christopher Zanetis of Long Island City, and Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso of Commack gave the ultimate sacrifice serving our country. They were all assigned to the wing’s 101st Rescue Squadron, which specializes in personnel recovery of pilots, military personnel and civilians, by air, land and sea, during combat and peacetime.
All four men leave behind family and friends who mourn their loss and their contributions to the communities where they lived.
Colonel Michael Bank, commander of the 106th Rescue Wing, said in a written statement,
“It is with great sadness that I report the loss of four of our wing members,” Col. Bank said. “All four of these heroes served their nation and community. Our sincerest condolences and sympathies to the families and friends that have been touched by this tragic event.”
“The 106th Rescue Wing personnel were operating in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the American-led coalition operation to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Department of Defense said.
Master Sgt. Raguso served as an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer, and joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2001. Captain Zanetis was an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot, who joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2008. Captain O’Keeffe, 37, was an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot and was a full-time federal civilian employee and an Air Guardsman. Staff Sgt. Briggs, who lived in Port Jefferson Station with his young family, was an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer, who joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2010.
The four airmen were part of a seven-member team killed when the HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter they were flying crashed near the city of Al-Qa’im in western Iraq, the Department of Defense said.
The aircraft crashed about 18 miles southeast of the center of Al-Qa’im. The American military uses a base in the Iraqi town as a logistics center and resupply hub.
Master Sgt. Raguso, a father of two girls and a member of the Fire Department of New York, also volunteered as a lieutenant with the Commack Fire Department. A GoFundMe page for Master Sgt. Raguso—called the “Raguso Girls Fund-raiser” and started by members of the Commack Fire Department—describes him a “true American hero.”