NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Four members of the New York Air National Guard were among the seven airmen killed when their helicopter went down Thursday in western Iraq.
Seven families are now dealing with the loss, but a local group announced that one of them will have a little help moving forward. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, which supports members of the military and first responders, will be raising funds to pay off FDNY Lieutenant Christopher Raguso’s mortgage after he was killed in the crash.
Raguso, affectionately nicknamed “Goose,” was a 13-year veteran of the FDNY who died just one day after his 39th birthday. He was a special missions flight engineer and a volunteer firefighter in Commack where he lived with his family.
He and FDNY Fire Marshall Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis, 37, were called up to active duty shortly before the crash.
“You can’t help but be crushed thinking about the families and I think it’s a state of shock in a big way,” 106th Rescue Wing Captain Michael O’Hagan said Saturday night.
30-year-old Dashan Briggs, of Port Jefferson Station, and 37-year-old Captain Andreas O’Keeffe, of Center Moriches were also lost. All four men were stationed at the F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach.
FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro spoke of the men’s courage under fire.
“What they do is beyond dangerous. In going into dangerous situations to bring out wounded people, downed pilots,” he said at Saturday’s Saint Patrick’s Day parade.
“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,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to their families, loved ones, and fellow service members and FDNY members.”
President Donald Trump offered his thoughts and prayers Friday on Twitter.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the brave troops lost in the helicopter crash on the Iraq-Syria border yesterday. Their sacrifice in service to our country will never be forgotten,” he tweeted.
The crash remains under investigation, but there was no immediate sign it was caused by enemy action.
For more information on how you can help Raguso’s family, CLICK HERE.