Saying Goodbye To 106th’s Fallen

Kitty Merrill

That first bouquet of flowers laid under the flag was “the sweetest gesture” and at the same time “hit like a baseball bat.” Captain Michael O’Hagan offered insight into community support that was “genuinely overwhelming” last week during a press conference in Westhampton in the wake of the loss of four members of the 106th Air National Guard Rescue Wing.

On March 15 four members of the local guard — Captain Christopher Zanetis, 37, of Long Island City, Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe, 37, of Center Moriches, Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, 39, of Commack, and Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, of Port Jefferson — were killed when their helicopter crashed in western Iraq. They were part of a seven-member team.

During the conference, Capt. O’Hagan described resources available to members of the Rescue Wing and their families. Said Wing Commander Colonel Michael Bank, “We’re doing all we can to look after these families. Our wing is devastated by the loss of these four men.”

Briggs, a Riverhead native, was posthumously promoted to the rank of Technical Sergeant. Promotions are also recommended for his fallen brothers. A wake for Briggs will be held today at the Westhampton Beach Volunteer Fire Department with visitation from 2 to 4:30 PM and 6:30 to 9:30 PM. A funeral at the department will be held tomorrow at 10 AM, with interment at Calverton National Cemetery to follow.

A celebration of Capt. Christopher T. Zanetis’s life also takes place today. Friends and family will gather at Rise Bar at 859 9th Avenue, New York, NY from 6 to 9 PM.

Tomorrow at 11 AM a procession will be led by the FDNY from Engine 28 Ladder 11 to Washington Square Park. A reception at New York University will follow.

In lieu of flowers, the family has suggested donations to: The Fisher House Foundation, The New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund, or Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

Tomorrow and Friday March 30, from 2 to 4 PM and 7 to 9 PM visitation for Master Sgt. Raguso will take place at the Commack Fire Department, 6309 Jericho Turnpike, in Commack.

On Saturday at 11 AM, Raguso’s service will be held at St. Joseph’s RC Church, 59 Church St. Kings Park, New York. Interment will follow at Calverton National Cemetery. The family would like for any donations to be sent to the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Tower foundation.

On Friday, April 6, a funeral mass will be held for Capt. Andreas O’Keeffe in Tampa, FL at Incarnation Catholic Church at 11 AM. Further details about arrangements were not available at press time.

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