Crew of National Guard helicopter that were killed during crash have been identified

New York Army National Guard Chief Warrant Officers John Grassia (left) and Casey Frankoski (middle) were identified along with Border Patrol Agent Chris Luna (right).

By Michael Swaney

Update: The two National Guard members who were killed when a helicopter crashed near the border with Mexico have been identified.

Chief Warrant Officers John Grassia, 30, and Casey Frankoski, 28, of the NY National Guard were killed during the crash. Grassia was also a New York state trooper.

“The Soldiers assigned to Detachment 2, A Company of the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment, were operating as part of Joint Task Force North, supporting Customs and Border Protection operations on the southwest border,” the New York National Guard said in a statement.

“The detachment, based at Army Aviation Flight Facility #3 at Albany International Airport in Latham, specializes in flying missions to support civilian agencies.

Twenty-one Soldiers from the units deployed to Texas in October to support the federal military mission.

They operate in federal duty status and are not part of the Texas National Guard’s Operation Lone Star.”

Border Patrol Agent Chris Luna, 49, was also killed in the crash, according to officials.

“We are all shocked and devastated by the loss of Chief Warrant Officer 2 Grassia and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Frankoski while serving along the U.S. border in Texas,” said Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York. “We are praying for the quick recovery of the crew chief who was injured in the crash. Our deepest condolences also go out to the family and friends of the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent who was also killed.” 

A fourth person aboard the aircraft was seriously wounded and remained hospitalized Sunday.

Authorities have yet to identify them but the Albany Times Union reported they are another New York National Guard member named Jacob Pratt.

“New York will never forget the service of State Trooper John Grassia and National Guard member Casey Frankoski,” New York Attorney General Letitia James posted on X. “My heart is with their families after this terrible incident, and I’m praying for the recovery of National Guard member Jacob Pratt.”

March 8 -On Friday, a National Guard helicopter crashed near the US border with Mexico in Texas and at least two were killed.

The helicopter was working with U.S. Border Patrol and operating under federal authority when in crashed near near La Grulla, Texas, according to CBS sources.

At least four people may be critically injured, DPS South Texas Regional Director Victor Escalon told Nexstar. He could not independently confirm more information and directed inquiries to Customs and Border Protection.

Escalon did say the helicopter was not part of Operation Lone Star, which is the unilateral border enforcement using the National Guard.

He added that it was “a military helicopter on federal orders working with Border Patrol.”

The helicopter was identified as a UH-72 Lakota by an official who spoke to CBS. 

A pilot attached to the Texas National Guard’s 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, rests on a UH-72 Lakota helicopter prior to a flight in 2020. (U.S. Army photo by Charles E. Spirtos)

The Starr County Sheriff’s Office stated it is assisting with the response to the crash on the east side of their county.

A Judge from Starr County told BorderReport that there was one National Guardsman and three Border Patrol agents aboard the helicopter at the time of the crash.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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