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NEWS | March 11, 2024

New York National Guard Names Soldiers Killed in Texas Helicopter Crash

By Eric Durr, New York National Guard

LATHAM, N.Y. - Two New York Army National Guard aviators were killed March 8 when the UH-72 Lakota light utility helicopter they were flying crashed near Rio Grande City, Texas, at 2:50 p.m. local time.

A Border Patrol agent also died in the crash, and the aircraft crew chief was severely injured and hospitalized.

Killed were Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski, 28, of Rensselaer, New York, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Grassia, 30, of Schenectady.

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 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.

The New York Army National Guard has been flying the UH-72 Lakota helicopter since 2012, deploying UH-72 pilots and personnel to the southwest border to support the Border Patrol since 2014.

The aircraft that crashed was assigned to the District of Columbia Army National Guard, not one of the two UH-72s operated by the New York Army National Guard. 

“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.” 

The name of the injured Soldier was not released due to privacy regulations.

Frankoski enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in October 2016. She was appointed as a warrant officer in 2019 and trained to become a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot. She was promoted to Warrant Officer 2 in 2021.

She is a graduate of and Columbia High School and Schenectady County Community College with an associate degree in social science.

Frankoski deployed to Kuwait from Nov. 2018 to Sept. 2019 with Detachment 5, Company C, 2nd Battalion, 245th Aviation Regiment, as a mission planner. The unit flies the Army’s C-12 transport aircraft.

Her military awards include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Service Medal, the Non-Commissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Basic Aviator Badge, and the Basic Aviation Badge.

Grassia enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in 2013 as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter maintenance specialist. He was appointed as a warrant officer in 2019 and trained as a UH-60 pilot. He was promoted to Chief Warrant Officer 2 in 2020.

Grassia is a 2012 graduate of Schalmont High School in Schenectady.

He deployed to Kuwait with Company A of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion. from Sept. 2013 to Sept. 2014. He was also on state active duty from 2020 to 2022 as part of the New York National Guard’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

His awards include the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Armed Forces Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Basic Aviator Badge, and

The UH-70 Lakota Light Utility Helicopter is configured to conduct general missions and execute tasks in non-combat, non-hostile environments, usually in support of local and state government and law enforcement.

A variant of the commercial American Eurocopter EC-145, the Lakota is a twin-engine, single-main-rotor helicopter. It seats two pilots and up to six passengers or two litters.

Two Turbomeca Arriel 1E2 engines, combined with an advanced four-blade rotor system, provide lift and speed in various operating conditions. The UH-72 can be configured with two litters, with passenger seating for a medical attendant and a crew chief.

The UH-72A is equipped with modern communication and navigation avionics. It includes a 3-axis autopilot and single pilot Instrument Flight Rules capability. The cockpit is compatible with night vision devices. In addition to the medevac configuration, the UH-72A is fielded in a security and support configuration.
 

 

 

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