In a tragic incident near the Texas-Mexico border, an Army National Guard helicopter crashed, claiming the lives of two New York Army National Guard soldiers and a Border Patrol agent. The crash occurred last Friday (March 8) in a field near Rio Grande City, leaving another New York Army National Guard member seriously injured. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, shedding light on the risks associated with border security missions in the region.

Tragedy Strikes at the Texas-Mexico Border

The tragic incident unfolded last Friday near the Texas-Mexico border as a District of Columbia Army National Guard helicopter, part of federal border vigilance efforts, crashed, claiming the lives of two New York Army National Guard soldiers and a US Border Patrol agent while leaving the helicopter’s crew chief injured.

As investigations into the crash continue, authorities mourn the fallen and extend prayers for the injured. The crash occurred in a field near Rio Grande City, Texas, cutting short the mission of the UH-72 Lakota helicopter.

The three individuals who lost their lives in the tragic incident were identified as Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski, 28, and Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Grassia, 30, both serving in the New York Army National Guard, and Border Patrol Agent Chris Luna, 49.

Frankoski and Grassia were members of Detachment 2, Company A, 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment, while Agent Luna was assigned to the Border Patrol’s Rio Grande City Station.

The injured crew chief, whose name remains undisclosed, was also from the New York Army National Guard. Their condition remains serious as they continue to receive medical care at a local hospital.

Condolences and Support

Those who knew them miss them deeply, as do those who understand the weight of the sacrifice that comes with service.

Major General Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, expressed shock and devastation at Frankoski and Grassia’s deaths while offering prayers for the swift recovery of the injured crew chief.

Troy Miller, acting commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, conveyed heartfelt condolences for the death of Agent Luna, who is survived by his wife and two children, as well as his parents and brother.

Similarly, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas expressed hopes for the injured Guardsman’s swift recovery, offering deepest condolences to the families of those who lost their lives.

Personal Journeys of Service and Sacrifice

Further details revealed that CW2 Grassia, hailing from Schenectady, New York, had enlisted in the New York Army National Guard in 2013 as a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter maintenance specialist.

Meanwhile, CW2 Frankoski, from Rensselaer, New York, enlisted in 2016 and underwent training to become a UH-60 Black Hawk and UH-72 Lakota helicopter pilot.

Their commitment to service and their tragic loss deeply saddened New York Governor Kathy Hochul, who emphasized the profound sacrifice made in defense of the country.

Border Security Challenges

The helicopter involved in the crash was assigned to the District of Columbia Army National Guard, adding a poignant dimension to the incident that transcends state borders.

The landscape of the Texas-Mexico border, a front line of national security, demands vigilance and courage but also carries an inherent risk, underscored by this tragedy and others like it.

In a related incident in January, a Texas Department of Public Safety helicopter experienced power loss and crashed while patrolling the border with Mexico. Although the co-pilot sustained minor injuries, the incident highlighted the dangers faced by personnel involved in border security operations.

In Memoriam

As investigations into the cause of the UH-72 Lakota helicopter crash continue, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by those who serve in defense of the nation.

The tragic loss of CW2 Frankoski, CW2 Grassia, and Agent Luna serves as a solemn reminder of the dedication and bravery exhibited by National Guard and Border Patrol personnel in safeguarding the country’s borders.