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Four 106th Rescue Wing airmen killed in Iraq officially identified

03/17/2018 6:45 PM |

The Department of Defense released the names Saturday evening of the four New York Air National Guard members assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach who were killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq.

As previously reported by his family, Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, a 30-year-old Riverhead native, was among those killed Thursday. The other airmen killed were identified as Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe of Center Moriches, Capt. Christopher Zanetis of Long Island City, and Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso of Commack.

They were all assigned to the wing’s 101st Rescue Squadron, which specializes in personnel recovery of pilots, military personnel and civilians, by air, land and sea, during combat and peacetime.

The four airmen were part of a seven-member team killed when the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter they were flying crashed near the city of Al-Qa’im in western Iraq, the Department of Defense said in a statement.

“There is no evidence of enemy action involved in the crash and the incident is under investigation,” it said.

“The 106th Rescue Wing personnel were operating in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the American-led coalition operation to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria,” the Department of Defense said.

Staff Sgt. Briggs, who lived in Port Jefferson Station with his young family, was an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer, who joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2010. He previously served in Afghanistan as a munitions system specialist with the 106th Maintenance Group, and completed missions in Texas and the Caribbean following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma last year.

Captain O’Keeffe, 37, was an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot and was a full-time federal civilian employee and an Air Guardsman. 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 in Syracuse.

Captain O’Keeffe had previously been deployed to Iraq three times, as well as serving in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Texas during Hurricane Harvey.

Captain Zanetis, 37, and Master Sgt. Raguso, 39, were both New York City firemen

Captain Zanetis was an HH-60G Pave Hawk pilot, who joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2008. According to the statement, he recently joined the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City as an associate. He also previously deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Master Sgt. Raguso served as an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer, and joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2001. 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.

“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,” said Col. Michael Bank, the commander of the 106th Rescue Wing.

Top photo credit: Riverhead’s Staff Sgt. Briggs, left, and Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe of Center Moriches were among the four New York Air National Guard members assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach killed in Iraq on Thursday. (Credit: Courtesy of the Department of Defense)

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