By Debbie Gregory.
The Department of Defense has released the names of the seven airmen who perished last week in a helicopter crash near Iraq’s border with Syria.
Four of the casualties were members of the New York Air National Guard’s 106th Rescue Wing, based in Westhampton Beach on Long Island.
They were identified as Captain Andreas B. O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches, New York; Captain Christopher T. Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, New York; Master Sergeant Christopher J. Raguso, 39, of Commack, New York; Staff Sergeant Dashan J. Briggs, 30, of Port Jefferson Station, New York;
Master Sergeant William R. Posch, 36, of Indialantic, Florida and Staff Sergeant Carl P. Enis, 31, of Tallahassee, Florida were assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron, Air Force Reserve at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida,
Captain Mark K. Weber, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
In a statement, Col. Kurt Matthews, commander of the 920th Rescue Wing said, “No words can heal the pain from the loss of these true American heroes. Our deepest sympathy goes out to their families.”
The aging HH-60G Pave Hawk fleet is intended to be replaced within the next decade by the Sikorsky HH-60W, the latest combat rescue helicopter based on the UH-60M Black Hawk.
There is no indication that the helicopter had been shot down. The cause of the crash remains under investigation.
We extend our sincere condolences to loved ones of the selfless servicemembers who perished in this tragic accident.