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Pentagon identifies seven US airmen who died in helicopter crash in Iraq

A HH-60 Pavehawk with the 101st Rescue Squadron conducts training Nov. 25 2014, around Westhampton Beach, N.Y. (New York Air National Guard by Senior Airman Christopher S. Muncy/Released)
March 18, 2018

The Defense Department over the weekend identified all seven Air Force casualties following a helicopter crash in Iraq last week.

The airmen were supporting Operation Inherent Resolve and died March 15 when an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in western Iraq. The cause of the crash is under investigation, the Pentagon said.

Those who were killed are:

  • Captain Mark K. Weber, 29, of Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was assigned to the 38th Rescue Squadron at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.
  • 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. All four were assigned to the 106th Rescue Wing at the Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, New York.
  • Master Sergeant William R. Posch, 36, of Indialantic, Florida.
  • Staff Sergeant Carl P. Enis, 31, of Tallahassee, Florida. Both were assigned to the 308th Rescue Squadron, Air Force Reserve, at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida.

U.S. officials put out a statement Friday that all seven service members who were in a US HH-60 Black Hawk variant, Pave Hawk helicopter that crashed Thursday were killed.

The crash does not appear to be the result of enemy activity but the cause is still under investigation.

The men were an acting part of Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR). Operation Inherent Resolve is a Combined Joint Task Force with other nations to defeat ISIS in designated areas of Iraq and Syria, and sets conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability.

The statement said:

At approximately 6:45 p.m. GMT March 15, 2018, a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in western Iraq. The crash does not appear to be a result of enemy activity. This incident is under investigation.

“All personnel aboard were killed in the crash,” said Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, director of operations, Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve. “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.”

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.

“We are grateful to the Iraqi Security Forces for their immediate assistance in response to this tragic incident,” Braga said. “Iraqi Security Forces continue to demonstrate their professionalism, capabilities and flexibility as we continue the fight towards a lasting defeat of Daesh.”

Names of the fallen will be released by the U.S. Department of Defense after next of kin have been notified.