Christopher Zanetis and Christopher Raguso, both New York City firefighters, were among the seven American service members who died in a military helicopter crash in Iraq’s Anbar province. Both had been previously honored for bravery.
Zanetis was working to become a lawyer, and Raguso helped rescue victims during Hurricane Harvey.
“Lt. Raguso and Fire Marshal Zanetis died in an American military helicopter crash in Iraq on Thurs., March 15,” according to FDNY Foundation. The Air Force utilized the crashed helicopter for search and rescue in combat.
According to DVIDS, “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.” You can see a heartbreaking series of photos honoring the fallen men who were part of the 106th Rescue Wing here, including Zanetis and Raguso.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Two Men Were Remembered as ‘Truly Two of New York City’s Bravest’
Lt. Raguso was a 13-year veteran of the Department; Fire Marshal Zanetis was a 10-year veteran, according to FDNY Foundation. They were identified by the U.S. Department of Defense as Captain Christopher T. Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, New York, and Master Sergeant Christopher J. Raguso, 39, of Commack, New York.
“Today, we mourn the deaths of FDNY Lieutenant Christopher J. Raguso and FDNY Fire Marshal Christopher T. ‘Tripp’ Zanetis, who were killed in an American military helicopter crash in Iraq on Thursday, March 15,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “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. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to their families, loved ones, and fellow service members and FDNY members.”
“Lt. Raguso and Fire Marshal Zanetis bravely wore two uniforms in their extraordinary lives of service – as New York City Firefighters and as members of the United States Armed Forces,” said Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro. “The hearts and prayers of the entire Department are with their loved ones and with the families of their five fellow service members who lost their lives defending our country.”
2. The Fallen Men Were From New York, Florida & Colorado
In addition to Zanetis and Raguso, the Department of Defense identified the dead men as:
Captain Mark K. Weber, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
Captain Andreas B. O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches, New York. He was described by the 106th Rescue Wing as “age 37, a resident of Center Moriches, N.Y., who was 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, N.Y. He deployed to Iraq three times, and to Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Texas during Hurricane Harvey.”
Staff Sergeant Dashan J. Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station, New York. He was described by the 106th Rescue Wing as “age 30, a resident of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., who was an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer. 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.”
Master Sergeant William Posch, 36, Indialantic, Florida. Posch was a youth baseball coach and a father, according to tribute posts on Facebook. A woman who knew him wrote, “Rough day today – RIP to our 7 fallen heroes in Iraq. Bill Posch – thanks for being a friend and a great role model for my boys. You will be missed.”
Staff Sergeant Carl P. Enis, 31, Tallahassee, Florida, was also among the fallen. In a tribute on Facebook, a friend remembered Enis for his positive nature.
Several of the men were assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing at the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, New York.
According to CBS News, Raguso “served as a lieutenant in the volunteer fire department in suburban Commack, where he lived.” In a statement, the Commack Fire Department said he was a “a great American patriot, friend and brother.”
3. Both Zanetis & Raguso Were Previously Cited for Bravery & Raguso Helped Save People During Hurricane Harvey
Raguso was deployed to Texas to help rescue Hurricane Harvey victims. He “was part of a team who helped save people stranded on the roof of a school,” according to Patch.
“We would get general information from the dispatchers and we would try to get on station and do our search and once we would find them then we would develop a game plan on how we were going to rescue them, how were going to get them in and most importantly how we were going to get them out,” he told KCEN at the time.
According to the FDNY Foundation, “Lieutenant Raguso was appointed as a Firefighter in March of 2005 and assigned to Ladder Company 113 in Flatbush, Brooklyn. In September, 2016, he was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to Battalion 50 in Queens. On six different occasions he was cited for bravery and life-saving actions as an individual Firefighter or as part of a unit.”
Zanetis was also cited for bravery. “Fire Marshal Zanetis was appointed Firefighter in September of 2004 and assigned to Engine Company 28 on the Lower East Side of Manhattan,” the FDNY Foundation wrote. “In 2007 he transferred to Ladder Company 11, located in the same firehouse. In April, 2013, he was promoted to Fire Marshal and assigned to the Bureau of Fire Investigation’s Citywide South in Brooklyn. In 2014, he was recognized for his bravery as part of an investigative unit.”
According to the FDNY Foundation, “Donations in Lt. Raguso’s honor can be made to the Scholarship Fund to Benefit the Children of FDNY Lieutenant Christopher Raguso by clicking here and selecting the fund in the drop down menu.”
4. More Than Sixty New York Firefighters Are Serving in Iraq
Raguso and Zaneti were not the only New York firefighters serving their country overseas. “Currently, 62 FDNY personnel are on extended military orders in the branches of the United States Armed Forces, serving around the world. There are more than 1400 FDNY members who are military reservists or veterans,” FDNY Foundation reported.
According to the 106th Rescue Wing, when it comes to the crash that killed Raguso and Zaneti, “The 106th Rescue Wing has lost four of our members 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. Thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of fallen members.”
Zanetis was described as “age 37, a resident of Long Island City, N.Y., who was an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot. He joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2008 and was assigned to the wing’s 101st Rescue Squadron. 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.”
Raguso was described as “age 39, a resident of Commack, N.Y., who was 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.”
5. Raguso Leaves Behind a Young Family & Wanted to Be a Lawyer
According to FDNY Foundation, “Lt. Raguso of Commack, New York, is survived by his wife, Carmella, and their two daughters, ages 6 and 5. Fire Marshal Zanetis is survived by his parents, John and Sarah, of Carmel, Indiana.”
More than $3,000 has been raised to help Raguso’s daughter on GoFundMe. “Our hearts break for these two little girls who will have to grow up without their Daddy. In honor of their, Dad who is a true American hero and sacrificed his life for our country, Please help support his girls,” the GoFundMe page says.
Zanetis had a bachelor’s degree in politics from New York University where he was on the “Student Senators Council University Committee on Student Life” and Men’s Swimming & Diving Team, according to his LinkedIn page. He went by the name “Tripp” Zanetis on LinkedIn.