|Biography||Message||Policies||NYNG Command Photos|
Whether we are part-time Soldiers and Airmen, or full-time members of our force, it's easy to forget --in our day-to-day routine-- that service in the New York National Guard is often about sacrifice.
Usually we're sacrificing our time. We give up weekends, evenings, and family events for all kinds of reasons. We end up spending a week in an armory or at the base on snow storm duty. All of us have done more 12 day weeks than we can count.
We forget that sometimes the sacrifice is even more.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, 39 members of our New York Army and Air Guard have sacrificed their lives doing their duty in combat.
Our most recent losses were March 15 when four members of the 106th Rescue Wing died in Iraq when the HH-60 they were flying crashed. They were part of our nation's effort to battle the ISIS terrorist network and they gave their lives trying to keep our citizens, as well as the citizens of Iraq, safe from this death cult.
These Airmen were highly trained. They knew their jobs. And they knew the risks as well. But their loss is still bitter to all of us who wear a uniform and to those who knew and served with them.
-- Capt. Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, who was an HH-60G pilot. He joined the Rescue Wing in 2008 and was assigned to the wing's 101st Rescue Squadron. Zanetis was a member of the New York City Fire Department in civilian life and had recently joined the law firm of Debevoise & Plimpton in New York City as an associate. He previously deployed to Iraq in 2011, supporting another HH-60G squadron, and Afghanistan with the 101st.
-- Capt. Andreas O'Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches, who was also a Pave Hawk pilot. He was a full-time federal technician with the wing's 101st Rescue Squadron. He joined the 106th in 2013, after serving as an armament systems specialist with the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard, and RC-26 pilot with our 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse. He deployed to Iraq three times, to Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, and Texas for Hurricane Harvey.
-- Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, 39, a resident of Commack, who was an HH-60G special missions aviation flight engineer. He joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2001 and was a member of the New York City Fire Department. He was assigned to the wing's 101st Rescue Squadron. 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.
-- Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, 30, a resident of Port Jefferson Station, who was also a Pave Hawk flight engineer. He joined the 106th Rescue Wing in 2010. He was a full time military member with the wing and assigned to the 101st Rescue Squadron. He previously deployed to Afghanistan as a munitions system specialist with the 106th Maintenance Group, and to Texas and the Caribbean for Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
The 106th Rescue Wing community has risen to the challenge to ensure the passing of these four was marked with honor and respect and their families were cared for. The loss is still hard. But loss and sacrifice also comes outside of combat. Soldiers and Airmen die in training accidents and sometimes just by surprise while they are on duty.
Most recently, we lost Army National Guard Spc. Joseph Nelk. Nelk was a cavalry scout in the 2nd Squadron, 101st Cavalry serving in Ukraine with the 27th Brigade Combat Team element training the Ukranian Army.
Joseph, a 21-year old from Pittsford, was visiting the town of Lviv near the training center where our Army Guard troops are stationed. He and his friends were in a store when he collapsed and died of natural causes December 10, 2017.
We had Army Guard Capt. Steve Ramlakhan, who worked at National Guard Bureau, pass away from natural causes as well.
Just turn the page here in the Guard Times and you'll read about Pfc. Emmanual Mensah, who died December 28, 2017 while saving lives in a Bronx apartment fire.
The 106th Rescue Wing lost another member in a car accident on February 24. Tech. Sgt. Michael Austin was a maintenance technician serving full time at Gabreski.
These four deaths may not have been in combat, but they were unexpected and tragic. All were serving their country and doing their jobs.
What we do can be risky. We need to remember that as we go about our business.
Appreciate your fellow service members because we all share these risks together.
Our service has a purpose that can put all of us in harm's way. We must never forget that.
I would ask that you remember each of these Guardsman and their families and keep them in your thoughts and prayers. I ask you to support each other as we mourn these Soldiers and Airman. Share their stories and grieve with one another. I am thankful that I was able to serve with each of these distinguished Soldiers and Airman.