Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo ordered flags flown at half staff on all state government buildings Sunday to honor the four New York National Guard members killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq last week, according to a news release.
The four service members, all assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing stationed at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, died when their HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed Thursday near the city of Qaim. Three other service members were also killed.
The Defense Department said the crash is under investigation and does not appear to be the result of enemy action.
“On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the friends and family of these courageous New York National Guard members,” Cuomo said in the release. “We join their loved ones and fellow service members in honoring the sacrifice they have made, so that others may live free in New York and across the entire nation.”
The four New York National Guard members were identified by the Defense Department as Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, 39, of Commack; Capt. Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City; Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station; and Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches.
Raguso and Zanetis were members of the FDNY. Raguso was stationed in Queens while Zanetis, a fire marshal, was on leave from the department, which he joined a decade ago.
O’Keeffe was a full-time technician and an Air Guardsman with the 106th. Briggs, who left behind a wife and a young son and daughter, was a former All Division football star at Riverhead High School.
“All four of these heroes served their nation and community,” said Col. Michael Bank, the commander of the 106th Rescue Wing. “Our sincerest condolences and sympathies to the families and friends that have been touched by this tragic event.”