US Soldiers Pay Ultimate Price At Border

Two New York National Guard soldiers and a US Border Patrol agent were killed and a third National Guard soldier was injured when their helicopter crashed along the southern border on March 8, the Associated Press reported.

The UH-72 Lakota crashed in a field while conducting aviation patrols along the Texas border near the Rio Grande as part of the federal government’s border security mission.

According to authorities, the three killed in the crash were New York National Guard Chief Warrant Officers John Grassia, 30, and Casey Frankoski, 28, and Border Patrol Agent Chris Luna, 49.

The National Guard Bureau withheld the name of the aircraft crew chief injured in the crash who also serves with the New York National Guard.

According to a press release from the New York State Division of Military & Naval Affairs, the aircraft crew chief remained hospitalized recovering from injuries.

Adjutant General of New York, Maj. Gen. Ray Shields said in the press release that the New York National Guard was “shocked and devastated” by Frankoski and Grassia’s deaths and was praying for the recovery of the crew chief injured in the March 8 crash.

According to acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy Miller, agent Luna was survived by a wife and two children.

John Grassia, a New York State trooper from Schenectady, enlisted in the New York National Guard in 2013. Casey Frankoski was from Rensselaer, New York. She enlisted in the National Guard in 2016 and qualified as a pilot for both UH-72 Latoka and 60 Black Hawk helicopters.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul expressed deep sadness at the deaths of Frankoski and Grassia, saying in a statement that there was “no greater calling” than service to the country.

The crash is under investigation.

The US southern border is under heavy patrol by both federal and state authorities, including aerial surveillance.