Funerals, wakes held for servicemen from Long Island killed in Iraq helicopter crash

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Rob Nelson reports on funerals and wakes for servicemen from Long Island killed in a helicopter crash. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

Funerals and wakes are being held over the next few days for the servicemen who died in the Iraq helicopter crash that killed 7.

The men were all assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing, based in Westhampton on Long Island.

A procession for 37-year-old Captain Christopher "Tripp" Zanetis, an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot and fire marshal, was held Thursday morning.

Zanetis was a well-respected FDNY firefighter on unpaid leave while he practiced law after graduating from Stanford Law and New York University. He decided to join the FDNY after the September 11th attacks and deployed in Afghanistan with the New York Air National Guard in 2012.

The procession was lead by Engine 28, Ladder 11 from its East Second Avenue firehouse to Washington Square Park. It was followed by a reception at NYU for family and friends.
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The FDNY led a processional ceremony to honor Major Christopher Zanetis, a firefighter who died in a helicopter crash while serving in Iraq.


Zanetis was also fitness trainer who was musically talented, and he was one of the first firefighters in the city to come out as gay was active in the fight for gay rights.

The funeral for 30-year-old Staff Sergeant Dashan Briggs was held at Thursday morning at the Westhampton Beach Volunteer Fire Department in Westhampton. Following the funeral, the married father of two was buried at Calverton National Cemetery.

Briggs was from Port Jefferson Station and was an special missions aviation flight engineer. He was a full time military member and 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.

The wake for Master Sergeant Christopher Raguso is scheduled for Thursday and Friday at the Commack Fire Department. His funeral is scheduled for 11 a.m. on March 31 at St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church in Kings Park.

The 39-year-old Raguso was also a member of the FDNY and volunteered for his hometown department in Commack. 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.

A funeral for 37-year-old Captain Andreas O'Keeffe, a resident of Center Moriches, will be held on April 6 in Tampa, Florida.

O'Keeffe was an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot who was a full-time federal civilian employee and an Air Guardsman with the wing's 101st Rescue Squadron. He previously served 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.

The men died when their helicopter went down during a search and rescue mission in the Anbar province of western Iraq. It is believed to have hit a power line.

"This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations," U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga said at the time. "We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today."

Braga is director of operations in the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria.

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