United States

2 FDNY Firefighters Among 7 Killed in U.S. Helicopter Crash in Iraq

All seven service members aboard a U.S. military chopper that went down Thursday in western Iraq died

What to Know

  • An FDNY lieutenant and another FDNY fire marshal were among the seven service members killed in a U.S. chopper crash in Iraq, sources said
  • The chopper went down Thursday in western Iraq; the Pentagon says it didn't appear to be the result of enemy activity and is being probed
  • President Trump offered his condolences to the families of the victims in a tweet Friday morning

Two FDNY firefighters were among the seven armed service members killed when their U.S. helicopter crashed in Iraq, the FDNY announced Friday evening.

The department identified Lt. Christopher Raguso and Fire Marshal Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis as the 1,148th and 1,149th members of the FDNY to die in the line of duty.

Mayor de Blasio on Friday called them "truly two of New York City's bravest."

Raguso was a 13-year veteran of the FDNY who received six citations for bravery and life-saving actions as an individual firefighter or as part of a unit. He also served as a lieutenant in the volunteer fire department in Commack, where he lived with his wife and two daughters, ages 5 and 6.

Zanetis had been with the department 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. 

“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,” FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro said in a press release.

A federal source said the two firefighters were members of the 106th Rescue Wing of the Air National Guard based in Suffolk County's Westhampton Beach. That source said "some" of those stationed at Westhampton Beach were lost in Thursday's chopper crash, though it's not clear how many.

Commack Fire commissioner Pat Fazio told News 4 in tears Friday that Raguso was a "dedicated, selfless guy." Flags were flying at half-staff Commack Station 4, where Raguso volunteered.

"He put his family first when he was home, but the guy just loved to save and help people, and that's what he did," Fazio said. 

Fazio added that that Raguso had been in Iraq since January for what was supposed to be his final deployment and was set to return home in May. 

Fazio said Raguso started working for his department in 2000, then went to join the FDNY.

"We've never gone through losing a guy who is a member here, that went to the service and lose his life," said Fazio. "His death is a line-of-duty death here, 'cause he's serving his country."

The FDNY said Zanetis is survived by his parents, who live in Indiana. 

His father, John Zanetis, of Carmel, Indiana, told the New York Post that he was on unpaid leave from the FDNY as he pursued a career in law. He graduated from law school at Stanford University and had been working at a New York firm, his father said.

"He was a very stand-up, moral, ethical person, up one side and down the other," the father said. "He just wanted to be of service. He served people in the fire department and in the military and was going to do the same thing as a lawyer."

The crash in western Iraq did not appear to be the result of enemy activity and is under investigation, the Pentagon said Friday. The names of the victims will be released by the Department of Defense once families are notified.

"This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations. We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today," U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, director of operations in the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria, said in a statement.

The helicopter was used by the Air Force for combat search and rescue, and was in transit from one location to another when it went down Thursday afternoon near the town of Qaim in Anbar Province.

The Pentagon said an accompanying U.S. helicopter immediately reported the crash and a quick-reaction force comprised of Iraqi security forces and Coalition members secured the scene.

President Trump tweeted his condolences Friday morning.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and loved ones of the brave troops lost in the helicopter crash on the Iraq-Syria border yesterday. Their sacrifice in service to our country will never be forgotten," he said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us