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FDNY Member Killed in Iraq Helicopter Crash Mourned at Washington Square Park

Christopher "Tripp" Zanetis is among three local men and two FDNY members who died in the crash

What to Know

  • Family and friends are saying their final goodbyes to Christopher "Tripp" Zanetis, one of the 7 guardsmen killed in a chopper crash in Iraq
  • Zanetis was a member of the FDNY; fellow FDNYer Christopher Raguso was also killed, along with Long Island guardsman Dashan Briggs
  • The FDNY also mourned this week Michael R. Davidson, killed in a movie set fire in Harlem last week

In another somber day for the FDNY this week, family and friends said their final goodbyes Thursday to department veteran Christopher "Tripp" Zanetis, a captain with the Air National Guard who died in a helicopter crash in Iraq two weeks ago. 

In addition to the 37-year-old Zanetis, the FDNY also lost Lt. Christopher Raguso, who was a master sergeant with the Air National Guard. They were among seven armed service members killed in the U.S. chopper crash. A third local guardsman killed in the crash was identified as 30-year-old Staff Sergeant Dashan J. Briggs of Commack. 

Zanetis and Raguso are the 1,148th and 1,149th members of the FDNY to die in the line of duty. The FDNY has also just mourned the 1,150th firefighter to die in the line of duty: Lt. Michael R. Davidson, who was killed in a Harlem building fire last week, was laid to rest Tuesday after a funeral at St. Patrick's Cathedral. 

The FDNY and New York University hosted a join memorial service for Zanetis, beginning with a procession from his former firehouse at Engine 28/Ladder 11 in the East Village to Washington Square Park, where an outdoor military honors ceremony was held, followed by remarks at NYU's Kimmel Center.

Zanetis, an Indiana native who graduated from NYU and Stanford Law School, had been with the FDNY since 2004 and had been promoted to fire marshal in 2013. He was recognized for his bravery as part of the investigative unit in 2014. 

"The world was robbed of someone that would have absolutely continued to make it a better place in profound ways," his sister said at the ceremony at the park. 

Zanetis, whom family and friends described a jack of all trades, was on unpaid leave from the FDNY as he pursued a career in law. He'd graduated from law school at Stanford University and had been working at a New York firm, his father said.

Childhood friend Drew Elliott said he could not keep up with all of Zanetis' accolades and achievements and goals: "He accomplished every single thing he set his mind to." 

Another colleague in the FDNY said, "I recently found out when we had an event at the firehouse that Tripp spoke Mandarin Chinese fluently. I didn't know that. He probably had nothing to do over a weekend and learned Chinese," he joked. 

"He rescued New Yorkers here at home, and overseas he rescued his fellow members of the Armed Forces," said Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro. 

A wake was also held Thursday for Raguso at the Commack Fire Department, and funeral services were held for Briggs at the Westhampton Beach Volunteer Fire Department. Briggs, a husband and father, was remembered by colleagues as a family man.

"I can tell you he was a phenomenal father, and that was the most important thing about him, the love of family," said retired Master Sgt. John Turner. 

"This is very tough. Not just for our country, our community, our members. It's very tough." 

The crash in western Iraq did not appear to be the result of enemy activity and is under investigation, the Pentagon said last week. 

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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