Two Army National Guard soldiers from New York and a Border Patrol agent lost their lives in a helicopter crash along the U.S.-Mexico border on Friday.

Honoring Casey Frankoski and John Grassia

Courtesy Mayor Mike Stammel and Troopers PBA
Courtesy Mayor Mike Stammel and Troopers PBA

It's been confirmed that Casey Frankoski and John Grassia of the New York National Guard were on board the downed UH-72 Lakota helicopter. According to the Joint Task Force North, they had been participating in border security operations near Rio Grande City, Texas.

Frankoski and Grassia, as well as one Border Patrol agent died in the crash. One soldier survived, but they are reportedly in critical condition.

Frankoski hailed from  Rensselaer and graduated from Columbia High School. Grassia was a New York State Trooper from Albany County.

The Rensselaer County Facebook page confirmed the surviving crew member was also from Rensselaer County. Their identity has not yet been released.

President Joe Biden offered his condolences to the families. He said on Saturday, "As we investigate the circumstances of this crash, we continue to stand with our service members, border agents, and their families, whose contributions to our nation are vital to our security."

The crash is under investigation. This article will be updated as more information is released.

mjf795 from Getty Images
mjf795 from Getty Images

This is the second time this year a helicopter crashed along the Mexican-American border. A Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter crashed in January, reportedly due to a loss of power, during its patrol.

Only the co-pilot was injured.

New York Officials Mourn Frankoski and Grassia

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin offered his condolences to the lives lost on Friday.

“Rensselaer County has vowed to never forget the service and sacrifice of our veterans and their families. This is a tragic loss, and we will never forget Casey and her service in defense of our freedom and security," he said.

We also extend sincere condolences to the Grassia family and recognize their service. We pray for the recovery of the injured crew member from our county.
Casey’s family are well-known in the county. Her father James served as Rensselaer Police Chief for years before his retirement in recent years.

Flags in the county have been ordered to fly at half-mast in honor of those killed.

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Photo Credit John Moore / Getty Images

Rensselaer Mayor Michael Stammel offered his condolences to Frankoski's family.

"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," he said.

Casey comes from a family deeply rooted in public service, and her legacy as an American hero resonates throughout our community. Casey's father is retired Rensselaer Police Chief James Frankoski and a part of our Rensselaer family. Our heartfelt condolences go out to the Frankoski family as we collectively mourn the loss of a beloved city native and dedicated patriot. Please keep all of the victims and families in your prayer.

Frankoski was also a star athlete and provided community service before joining the Guard.

The NY State Police Investigators Association honored Grassia and said in a statement, " Rare is the individual who commits so much of their life to protecting others. A State Trooper and pilot for the National Guard…a real American Hero."

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office released a statement Sunday regarding the tragedy

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office extends our deepest thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of New York State heroes Casey Frankoski and John Grassia. Both lost their lives in a helicopter crash in Texas, while serving our country as members of the New York National Guard.

Their unwavering dedication to our country and their local communities will not be forgotten. Our hearts go out to all those affected by this tragic incident.

This story will be updated as more tributes come in.

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