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Top stories of 2018: Riverhead native killed in Iraq helicopter crash

Remembered as a self-motivated, disciplined man who could light up any room with his smile, Tech. Sgt. Dashan Briggs was one of seven service members killed aboard a military helicopter in Iraq March 15 while supporting Operation Inherent Resolve. He was 30.

A 2007 graduate of Riverhead High School, where he was a standout football player and member of the lacrosse team, Tech. Sgt. Briggs was a full-time member of the Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach. He served as an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer assigned to the 101st Rescue Squadron.

The HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crashed near the city of Al-Qa’im in western Iraq. Three other members of the 106th also died. A United States Air Force Aircraft Accident Investigation Board report later concluded that the helicopter struck a galvanized steel cable strung horizontally between two 341-foot high towers, causing it to crash.

In the months following his death, the community rushed to the side of his wife, Rebecca, and their two young children, Jayden and Ava.

Since March, the community raised more than $45,000 for his family via a GoFundMe page, Lewis Street in Riverhead was renamed “Tech Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs Way,” and hundreds, from the Westhampton Beach Volunteer Fire Department to Tech. Sgt. Briggs’ alma mater, Riverhead High School, lined the streets to pay their respects during his funeral. And in July, his family received another round of support, when their mortgage was paid off in full.

The first annual “TSgt. Dashan J. Briggs Family Fun Day and BBQ Contest” was held at Stotzky Park in Riverhead in September. The event — organized by his family — brought together all the things Tech. Sgt. Briggs loved most: family, friends and barbecuing. They hope to make it an annual event.