A fundraiser in honor of the seven servicemen, known as the Jolly 51 Crew, will be held on Saturday, September 22, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the Boardy Barn
"As firemen, who had the honor of working with Trip and Chris, we felt compelled to give back to the military community, and organize an event that would pay homage not only to the seven heroes that paid the ultimate price, but also honor their families," noted Francis Thomas. "The fire department is inherently communal to say the least; when something happens to one of our members, we circle the wagons and take care of our own."
These servicemen gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our country on March 15, 2018, when the HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter they were aboard crashed in the Anbar Province in western Iraq
, near the city of Qaim, where the U.S. military operates a logistics center and resupply hub.
The exact cause of the horrific crash that took the lives of these seven men is still under investigation, although initial reports claimed the helicopter hit a power line. It has been additionally reported that the helicopter crashed approximately 18 miles southeast of Qaim near a phosphate factory and railway station close to the base.
Amid the homage paid to these servicemen, four of whom were assigned to the Gabreski ANG Base in Riverhead, a pragmatic and practical response in the form of a fundraiser with benefits going directly to the families of the seven men is a community effort to show respect and remembrance to the challenges and efforts put forth by our military service members.
These are the names of the Jolly 51 Crew:
• Capt. Mark K. Weber, 38th Rescue Squadron, Moody Air Force Base, Georgia
• Capt. Andreas B. O'Keefe, 106th Rescue Wing, Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base, New York
• Capt. Christopher T. "Tripp" Zanetis, 106th Rescue Wing, Francis S. Gabreski ANG Base
• Master Sgt. Christopher J. Raguso, 106th Rescue Wing, Francis S. Gabreski ANG Base
• Staff Sgt. Dashan J. Briggs, 106th Rescue Wing, Francis S. Gabreski ANG Base
• Master Sgt. William R. Posch, 308th Rescue Squadron, Air Force Reserve, Patrick AFB, Florida
• Staff Sgt. Carl P. Enis, 308th Rescue Squadron, Air Force Reserve, Patrick AFB
It should be noted that all seven of these men were with Rescue Wing/Squadrons divisions of the U.S. Air Force. So now, perhaps, we as a community can offer some rescue in the form of financial contributions to the families of these men and offer a heartfelt show of gratitude to affirm that this is not just a list of names to us.
At a cost of $40, the event will include hot dogs, burgers, cash bar, and a special performance by The Meade Brothers Band, which makes this very personal indeed as this band includes the father of Chris Raguso.
"These men were selfless, honorable, and generous; this event was created out of pride and adoration for these seven unforgettable men that made the ultimate sacrifice," Thomas added. "We look forward to seeing everyone on Saturday, September 22 to show some support!"
Boardy Barn is located at 270 West Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays. For more information, visit www.facebook.com. To make a donation visit: www.FDNYfoundation.org .
Eileen Casey spent many years working in the television and music industries in New York City on the "ABC In Concert" weekly series, as well as several prime time network and cable television specials. An award-winning journalist, editor, and artist, and former Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com, she enjoys staying warm in Charleston and cool in the Hamptons.