SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A somber farewell was held Saturday morning for a national guardsman from Long Island who was killed in Iraq.
Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, nicknamed “Goose,” died just one day after celebrating his 39th birthday. He was one of 7 airmen killed when their military helicopter crashed in Western Iraq.
The 13-year veteran of the FDNY spent the majority of his career at Engine 249/Ladder 113 in Brooklyn. He was also a special missions flight engineer and a volunteer firefighter in Commack, where he lived with his wife and two daughters.
Raguso’s wake was held Friday night at the Commack Fire Department, where he was posthumously promoted to chief.
His flag-draped casket arrived Saturday atop a fire engine at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in the Suffolk County hamlet of Kings Park, with bagpipes intoning “Amazing Grace” and hundreds of white-gloved, uniformed firefighters lining the street. Some became pallbearers who carried him to the altar of the church where Raguso and his wife, Carmella, were married in 2009 and where his daughters, 6-year-old Eva and 5-year-old Mila, were baptized.
WATCH: Full Funeral Service For Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his wife, Chirlane McCray, attended the funeral along with city Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro.
“This tremendous hero we honor today was gone in an instant, leaving a legacy of service we must all strive to live up to,” Nigro said in his eulogy.
“We mourn the bear hugs and endearing nicknames he gave each of us. We miss the innocent goofball antics we now can only tell in stories and laughter,” his longtime friend, Lt. Christopher Gorzynski, said. “Just look at any picture, and you’ll see the widest smile on his face. He loved doing what he did.”
“This man’s entire life was dedicated to service of others, and he has done exactly what they and the country have asked him to; that’s because Chris didn’t know how not to give 100 percent of himself,” said his father, John Raguso. “He recognized that to be good at his job, he needed to go where the action was, he wanted to be there, whether that was home wrestling with his giggling daughters, or forcing entry into the heart of a six-story tenement on fire.”
“Know this brothers, Chris will ride with you on every alarm and will be by your side on every call,” he added.
Raguso previously deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Texas, and the Caribbean for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. His service to his community and his country earned him multiple citations for saving lives and bravery.
Commack Fire Commissioner Pat Fazio said he hopes the other fallen soldiers will be recognized in the same way.
“Keep these families, all seven of these families, in your thoughts and prayers not just today but tomorrow and the future,” Fazio said. “Right now they’re surrounded by love and support, and in the days and the months and the years to come, they need to be reminded of it.”
Fazio said Raguso was posthumously promoted to chief of the Commack Fire Department.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is raising money for the Raguso family. The FDNY Foundation also announced they’re be collecting scholarship money for his two young daughters.
If you would like to make a donation, please click here.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)