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Wake, funeral set for fallen Technical Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs

Technical Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs of Port Jefferson

Technical Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs of Port Jefferson Station was among the New York Air National Guardsmen who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq on March 15. Credit: New York Air National Guard

A plane bearing bodies of the 106th Rescue Wing members who perished in a March 15 helicopter crash in Iraq is scheduled to arrive in Westhampton Beach on Tuesday, area fire officials said.

The Commack and Westhampton Beach fire departments will host wakes and funerals for two of the four airmen who died when a Pave Hawk helicopter crashed near the Syrian border, according to officials with both agencies.

A wake for Technical Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station is scheduled for Wednesday at the Westhampton Beach Volunteer Fire Department, said Chief Billy Dalton. Visiting hours will be from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Dalton said a funeral for Briggs is scheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday at the firehouse, with burial to follow at Calverton National Cemetery.

Funeral arrangements had not been completed for Master Sgt. Christopher J. Raguso, 39, of Commack, said Commack Fire Commissioner Patrick Fazio.

The helicopter crash killed seven American troops, including four members of the 106th — Capt. Andreas B. O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches and Capt. Christopher T. Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, Queens, in addition to Raguso and Briggs.

The families of Briggs, Zanetis and Raguso were not available for comment Saturday.

A funeral for O’Keeffe is planned for April 6 at Incarnation Roman Catholic Church in Tampa, Florida, said his father, Shan O’Keeffe.

Since 9/11, the 106th Rescue Wing frequently has sent aircrews and rescue personnel to the Iraq region to search for and recover U.S. troops who have become trapped behind enemy lines.

The four killed were among a contingent of 106th personnel who flew to Iraq in late January for a deployment that is expected to last until late spring. Military officials said the crash did not appear to be caused by hostile fire.

“It’s a fine mission that they do,” Shan O’Keeffe said. “It’s all about saving lives.”

Briggs, who held the rank of staff sergeant when he died, was posthumously promoted to technical sergeant. The others of the 106th who died in the crash have also been recommended for posthumous promotion, National Guard officials said.

Dalton said he expects personnel and equipment from several Long Island fire departments to line area roadways as hearses carrying the flag-draped coffins of the fallen airmen make their way from Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base on Tuesday.

“As soon as the family asked, we said absolutely,” Dalton said of the decision to host Briggs’ funeral. “All of my neighboring fire departments are on board.”

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