east hampton indoor tennis, lessons, club, training
27east.com

Story - News

Mar 16, 2018 10:51 AMPublication: The Southampton Press

UPDATE: Gov. Andrew Cuomo Directs Flags To Half-Staff In Memory Of Four 106th Members Killed In Helicopter Crash

Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, Capt. Christopher Zanetis and Capt. Andreas O'Keeffe have been identified as the four New York Air National Guard members assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, stationed in Westhampton Beach, who died in Iraq on Thursday.
Mar 19, 2018 7:02 AM

UPDATE: 12:10 p.m. Sunday

Governor Andrew Cuomo is calling for all flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Monday to honor the four National Guard members from the 106th Rescue Wing who were killed in the helicopter crash in Iraq.

"On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to the friends and family of these courageous New York National Guard members," Gov. Cuomo said in a written statement on Sunday. "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."

UPDATE: 8:30 p.m. Saturday

Capt. O'Hagan, the 106th Rescue Wing's public affairs officer, said he personally knew all four of the men from the 106th Rescue Wing who were killed in the helicopter crash in Iraq.

"It's hard to believe," Capt. O'Hagan said. "It's really, really tough."

The helicopter was part of Operation Inherent Resolve, or OIR—the U.S. Military's intervention against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Capt. O'Hagan explained. While the cause of the crash is still being investigated, he noted that it does not appear to have been from enemy fire. The flight was not part of a combat mission.

The days since Thursday's crash have been difficult at the 106th Rescue Wing.

Earlier on Saturday, Capt. O'Hagan flipped through photographs of the four men with other members of the rescue wing. Smiles were swept across everyone's faces in the images; it was hard to look at.

"It's just an incredibly sad time, as you can imagine," Capt. O'Hagan said.

He added that Capt. Zanetis, Capt. O'Keeffe, Master Sgt. Raguso, and Staff Sgt. Briggs all had big hearts, and were always willing to lend a helping hand when it was needed.

"All four of these guys are really the kind of guys you want in your community..." Capt. O'Hagan said. "It's an extremely huge loss for us."

UPDATE: 7:22 p.m. Saturday

The U.S. Department of Defense on Saturday officially identified the four members of the 106th Rescue Wing who were killed in a helicopter crash in western Iraq on Thursday.

They were:

• Capt. Christopher Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot. He joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2008 and was assigned to the wing's 101st Rescue Squadron. Capt. Zanetis was a member of the New York City Fire Department in civilian life and had recently joined the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City as an associate. He previously deployed to Iraq in 2011, supporting another HH-60G squadron, and Afghanistan with the 101st.

• Capt. Andreas O'Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches, an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot. He was a full-time federal civilian employee and an Air Guardsman with the wing's 101st Rescue Squadron. He joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2013, after serving as an armament systems specialist with the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard, and RC-26 pilot with the 174th Attack Wing, Hancock Field Air National Guard Base, Syracuse. He deployed to Iraq three times, and to Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Texas during Hurricane Harvey.

• Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, 39, a resident of Commack, an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer. He joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2001 and was a member of the New York City Fire Department. He was assigned to the wing's 101st Rescue Squadron. He previously deployed to Iraq as a fire protection specialist with the 106th Civil Engineering Squadron, twice to Afghanistan with the 101st, once to the Horn of Africa, and to Texas and the Caribbean for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

• Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station, an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer. A graduate of Riverhead High School, he joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2010. He was a full-time military member with the wing and assigned to the 101st Rescue Squadron. He previously deployed to Afghanistan as a munitions system specialist with the 106th Maintenance Group, and to Texas and the Caribbean for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma as a member of the 101st.

The four New York Air National Guard Airmen were part of a seven-member team who died when the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter they were flying crashed near the city of Al-Qa'im in western Iraq. There is no evidence of enemy action involved in the crash, and the incident is under investigation, according to the Department of Defense.

"It is with great sadness that I report the loss of four of our wing members," said Col. Michael Bank, the commander of the 106th Rescue Wing. "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.”

"Our National Guard family mourns the loss of the seven combat search and rescue Airmen in the HH-60 crash, including four members from the 106th Rescue Wing," said Major General Anthony German, the Adjutant General of New York. "This loss reminds us of the tremendous risks we take in serving our nation every day. We honor their service, their professionalism, and their sacrifice as we mourn their loss.”

The 106th Rescue Wing operates the HH-60G Pave Hawk search-and-rescue helicopter, which is a modified version of the Army's UH-60 Blackhawk. The wing also flies the HC-130 search-and-rescue version of the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft.

The four Airmen killed on March 15 brings the total number of New York National Guard members who have died in a combat zone since Sept. 11, 2001 to 39. Of those, seven have been members of the New York Air National Guard.

A press conference has been scheduled for 9 p.m. Saturday.

UPDATE: 6 p.m.

Three members of the 106th Rescue Wing who were killed in Thursday's helicopter crash in Iraq have been unofficially identified.

The Riverhead

News-Review spoke with a family member who confirmed that Dashan Briggs, a 2007 Riverhead High School graduate and a member of the 106th, was killed in the crash. He was 30.

The newspaper reports that he leaves a widow and two young children.

The military publication Stars & Stripes said he was a staff sergeant with the 106th on deployment in Iraq.

Stars & Stripes also cited a Facebook post by the Commack Fire Department identifying another 106th member who died in the crash as Christopher Raguso, a flight engineer for the 106th and a lieutenant in the fire department. He is also a member of the New York Fire Department.

The Associated Press also is identifying a third casualty: Christopher "Tripp" Zanetis, also a member of the NYFD.

UPDATE: 5 p.m.



U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone both issued statements about Thursday’s helicopter crash.

“While I cannot get into further details yet due to the process of notifying next of kin, I just want to extend my deepest condolences to the families of the great American heroes lost in yesterday’s helicopter crash on the Iraq-Syria border,” Mr. Zeldin said on Friday. “These lives represented the best of the best of our proud nation!”

Mr. Bellone added to that sentiment in his prepared statement. “I am heartbroken to learn of reports that seven service members lost their lives last night in a tragic helicopter crash in Iraq ...” the statement reads. “The service members in this unit selflessly deploy around the world to provide combat search-and-rescue coverage for United States and allied forces.”

He continued: “This tragedy serves as a stark reminder of the sacrifices our heroes in uniform face every day. My sincere condolences are with the family members, and I ask that all New Yorkers keep them in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

The 106th Rescue Wing is an air defense military installation based at the Francis S. Gabreski Airport in Westhampton. The base—which has 1,000 members—deploys airmen worldwide to provide combat search-and-rescue coverage for U.S. and allied forces.

The base is known for its role in the 1991 rescues depicted in the best-selling book and subsequent blockbuster film “The Perfect Storm.”

UPDATE: 1 p.m.:

President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday morning about the helicopter crash.

“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,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Their sacrifice in service to our country will never be forgotten.”

UPDATE, 11 a.m.:

Captain Jean Kratzer, an ANG public information officer, said she has no comment because families of the service members involved in the crash are still being notified.

Original:

Four members of the Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing based at Gabreski Airport in Westhampton were among seven service members killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq on Thursday.

Southampton Town Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said on Friday morning that he had spoken with officials from the ANG base, and the American military helicopter did not include any Southampton Town Police officers. The town has three police officers deployed in Iraq with the 106th, he added.

Additional information about the crash was not immediately available, but various national outlets have reported that seven service members were killed in the crash.

Captain Michael O’Hagan, the public information officer for 106th Rescue Wing, could not be immediately reached on Friday morning. Katie Vincentz, a spokesperson for U.S. Representative Lee Zeldin, also could not be immediately reached for comment.

According to The New York Times, the downed aircraft was a HH-60 Pave Hawk, a modified version of the Black Hawk helicopter. The helicopter is often flown by the Air Force for medical evacuation missions; it is also commonly used by Special Operations pararescue specialists.

The aircraft crashed about 18 miles southeast of the center of Qaim, The Times reported. The American military uses a base in the Qaim as a logistics center and resupply hub.

U.S. Central Command, based in Tampa, Florida, issued a press release on Thursday confirming the crash but offering no details about the number of casualties or the agencies involved.

You have read 1 of 7 free articles this month.

Yes! I'll try a one-month
Premium Membership
for just 99¢!
CLICK HERE

Already a subscriber? LOG IN HERE

Very sad to ear. Thank you for your service. Rest in peace.
By Toma Noku (616), Southampton on Mar 16, 18 11:01 AM
3 members liked this comment
OMG!
By Robert I Ross (238), Hampton Bays on Mar 16, 18 11:32 AM
1 member liked this comment
As the former Vice-Chair of the Friends of the 106th Rescue Wing, I'm incredibly saddened and stunned at this news.
By Robert I Ross (238), Hampton Bays on Mar 16, 18 11:37 AM
What did US helicopters do in Iraq? Do not deploy military units in foreign countries and you won't be killed. As simple as that.
By andrew2 (1), New York on Mar 17, 18 9:35 AM
Our military volunteers take an oath to serve their country, and follow the orders of civilian leadership. They don't choose to deploy anywhere. You obviously hold military service in contempt.
By MoronEliminator (146), Montauk on Mar 17, 18 6:50 PM
1 member liked this comment
Andrew, you sound like someone who enjoys their freedom without realizing what it took to give it to you.
By dnice (2340), Hampton Bays on Mar 18, 18 3:42 PM
1 member liked this comment
Good Lord. What a loss. tragic
By North of Highway (279), New York on Mar 16, 18 12:00 PM
Sad day for our crews from the 106th.
By knitter (1428), Southampton on Mar 16, 18 12:08 PM
Sad day for our crews from the 106th.
By knitter (1428), Southampton on Mar 16, 18 12:09 PM
1 member liked this comment
So many lives will be impacted by this terrible tragedy. My condolences to the families and friends of those who have been lost....
By chaerter (3), Sag Harbor on Mar 16, 18 12:15 PM
1 member liked this comment
Terrible news, God Bless.
By joeg (22), Hampton Bays on Mar 16, 18 12:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
I remember when Bush stood under a mission accomplished banner about 12 years ago...absurd that we’re still there losing American lives.
By Brandon Quinn (151), Hampton Bays on Mar 16, 18 12:34 PM
2 members liked this comment
And 6 years ago, remember what this clown announced to the fanfare of his gullible supporters. It's hard to believe a Nobel Peace Prize winner would leave this mess for President Trump to inherit.

The Guardian
21 Oct 2011

"President Barack Obama on Friday declared an end to the Iraq war by announcing that all American troops would be withdrawn from the country by year's end."
"Obama spoke of a ***promise kept***, a new day for a self-reliant Iraq and a focus on building ...more
By NateNewtown (57), east on Mar 16, 18 7:15 PM
2 members liked this comment
You're actually going to blame Obama for this? For trying to extricate us from the Bush wars? Meantime, the current jackass will probably be starting a nuclear war with the help of his master Putin.
By Jolly Roger (18), Southampton on Mar 18, 18 5:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
Obama ran his election campaign with the clear, unambiguous promise of withdrawing from Iraq. Period. Obama then, to the cheers of his supporters like you, said his "promise was kept". Do you understand? He took credit for withdrawing the our troops from Iraq, which was another in a long line of bald faced lies. And suddenly you oppose the Russians? It's funny, you and your fellow leftists loved the Soviets when they were promising to annihilate our nation. Nuclear War? Do you recall the message ...more
By MoronEliminator (146), Montauk on Mar 21, 18 12:50 PM
There were over 170k troops in Iraq at one point, how many are there now?

Sounds like a withdrawal to me.
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3832), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 21, 18 12:54 PM
In 2011 Obama presided over a ceremony in which he boasted that the "last 500 troops" were withdrawn from Iraq. Shortly thereafter he began quietly sending troops back to Iraq to counter the growth of ISIS that filled the power vacuum left by Obama's hasty, telegraphed withdrawal. By 2014 as Iraqi city after city fell to ISIS he was sending troops back in increments of 1000+. By the time Obama left office, there were over 5000 being regularly rotated in and out. Deployment overlap was used as a ...more
By MoronEliminator (146), Montauk on Mar 21, 18 1:42 PM
There's about 7,000 troops in Iraq, from what I gather. That's about 4% of our total force at its peak.

How many regular troops do you think we keep stationed in Japan, Korea, or Germany?
By Fore1gnBornHBgrown (3832), HAMPTON BAYS on Mar 22, 18 9:12 AM
Praying for your families, THANK YOU for your service!!
By Hamptons777 (10), East Quogue on Mar 16, 18 12:38 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By andrew2 (1), New York on Mar 17, 18 9:37 AM
This is a tragic loss, God Bless our Troops. Show some respect Brandon!
By bigfresh (3671), north sea on Mar 16, 18 12:40 PM
God bless them all, and their families. Seven more victims of this conflict, four of them our neighbors, all of them our countrymen.
By Turkey Bridge (1861), Quiogue on Mar 16, 18 1:29 PM
2 members liked this comment
We have family that has served active duty in war zones as a member the highly honored 106th. We know the anguish of the uncertainty.
This unit is distinguished by the number of American and coalition lives that they have saved by their rescues.
They go into active combat areas, risking their own lives to save others. They are truly America’s finest. Heroes of our Military. They also help out during national disasters, saving their fellow Americans.
May God Bless these Heroes ...more
By TheTurtle (126), Southampton on Mar 16, 18 5:47 PM
"Three members of the 106th Rescue Wing who were killed in Thursday's helicopter crash in Iraq have been unofficially identified."
Why would you publish names based on unofficial identification's??? What if you are wrong? I lost a son in Iraq and I know damn sure I wouldn't want to have read an "unofficial" account of his death on 27 East. Did anyone think of their families??
By chaerter (3), Sag Harbor on Mar 16, 18 6:33 PM
1 member liked this comment
Shocked and saddened to hear this
By LovinLife (57), East Quogue on Mar 17, 18 8:45 PM
These men are the real heroes. Met many from WWII's greatest generation to the present. Remarkable men and woman!
By BruceB (140), Sag Harbor on Mar 17, 18 9:57 PM
2 members liked this comment
andrew, I can see by your statement that you, or your family did not serve your country. PRAY
By knitter (1428), Southampton on Mar 18, 18 3:15 PM
Prayers to these young men and their families.
By greeneyedlady (55), East Quogue on Mar 19, 18 11:23 AM
harbor hot tubs,