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2 Nat’l Guard soldiers, 1 Border Patrol agent killed

UH-72 Lakota’s, the Army’s new light utility helicopter, are prepped for transport aboard a C-17 Globemaster III to Germany from Columbus AFB, Miss., April 9. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jacob Corbin).
March 11, 2024

Two U.S. National Guard members and one border agent were killed in a UH-72 Lakota helicopter crash near Rio Grand City, Texas, along the southern border between the United States and Mexico on Friday. A third National Guard member was injured in the crash.

A statement released Friday by Joint Task Force North explained that a UH-72 Lakota helicopter that was assigned to the “federal Southwest border support mission” crashed near Rio Grand City, Texas, at roughly 2:50 p.m. MST while “conducting aviation operations.”

“Two soldiers and one US Border Patrol agent are killed,” Joint Task Force North stated. “One soldier was injured.” Joint Task Force North added that the cause of the crash was under investigation.

According to Fox News, the victims of the helicopter crash have been identified as 28-year-old New York National Guard helicopter pilot Casey Frankoski, 30-year-old New York State Trooper John Grassia III, and 49-year-old Border Patrol Agent Chris Luna.

A statement by the New York State Troopers PBA recognized Grassia’s service to both the citizens of New York and U.S. citizens across the country. The New York State Troopers PBA wrote, “Trooper Grassia, who was dedicated to serving and protecting not only the citizens of New York State but also the citizens of the entire United States, will be remembered for his ultimate sacrifice.”

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Frankoski was identified by Rensselaer Mayor Mike Stammel as the other National Guard member killed in Friday’s tragic helicopter crash.

“Rensselaer is deeply saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Casey Frankoski, a remarkable New York National Guard helicopter pilot who tragically lost her life in a helicopter crash on Friday while patrolling the US-Mexico border,” the mayor wrote in a post on Facebook.

President Joe Biden released a statement Saturday regarding what he described as the “tragic deaths” of a U.S. Border Patrol agent and two members of the National Guard. The president noted that the helicopter crash occurred as the service members were “conducting routine operations” near the border in Texas.

“These brave Americans dedicated their lives to protecting our nation,” Biden stated. “They signed up knowing the risks and believing in the mission of serving their fellow Americans by keeping our nation safe. Our gratitude is profound, and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

While Biden did not provide details regarding the extent of the third National Guard member’s condition, the president said the soldier was “badly injured” in Friday’s crash and was “hospitalized.”