NEW YORK (AP) — Two New York City firefighters were among seven service members killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, city officials said Friday.
Fire department Lt. Christopher Raguso and fire marshal Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis, who were aboard a military helicopter that crashed in western Iraq on Thursday, were “truly two of New York City’s bravest,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said Raguso and Zanetis “bravely wore two uniforms in their extraordinary lives of service” with the fire department and the U.S. armed forces.
Zanetis was with the department since 2004 and was promoted to fire marshal in 2013. He was recognized for his bravery as part of an investigative unit in 2014.
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 Pentagon said the crash does not appear to be the result of enemy activity and is under investigation.
Raguso was a 13-year veteran of the Fire Department of New York 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 suburban Commack, where he lived.
He leaves a wife and two daughters, ages 6 and 5.
Commack fire Commissioner Jerome Quigley called Raguso “a great father and great role model.”
Quigley said he had known Raguso for 20 years and spoke with him just two days ago.
“We were joking back and forth, and I said, ‘Keep your head down and be safe,'” he said.