Helicopter Crash Near Texas-Mexico Border Claims Lives of Two Soldiers and Border Patrol Agent

2 soldiers, Border Patrol agent dead in helicopter crash near Texas-Mexico border

Two U.S. National Guard members and a Border Patrol agent tragically lost their lives, while another soldier sustained injuries, when a helicopter crashed near Rio Grande City, Texas, on Friday, according to officials.

The two Army National Guard members who lost their lives were identified as Casey Frankoski and John Grassia III, as confirmed by officials in New York. However, the identity of the Border Patrol agent has not been disclosed to the public.

The injured individual also happens to be a soldier.

The UH-72 Lakota helicopter went down at approximately 2:50 p.m. local time while engaged in aviation operations in the Rio Grande City vicinity, near the border of Texas and Mexico, as per a statement from the Defense Department’s Joint Task Force North.

The helicopter had been designated for a support mission at the southwest border of the U.S., according to the statement.

Helicopter Crash Near Texas-Mexico Border Claims Lives of Two Soldiers and Border Patrol Agent
Helicopter Crash Near Texas-Mexico Border Claims Lives of Two Soldiers and Border Patrol Agent (Credits: NBC News)

Arturo Caricio Michael Stammel, the mayor of Rensselaer, New York, expressed in a Facebook post that Frankoski, a native of Rensselaer, was an outstanding student who excelled in sports and community service before joining the New York National Guard, where she served as a helicopter pilot.

Grassia, aged 30, joined the New York State Police in April 2022 and was most recently assigned to Troop G, as per the New York State Troopers Police Benevolent Association.

The association stated that Grassia “was dedicated to serving and protecting not only the citizens of New York State but also the citizens of the entire United States.”

In a statement, President Joe Biden confirmed that the third soldier “was badly injured in the crash and is hospitalized.” No further details regarding the soldier’s condition were provided.

Biden expressed his gratitude, saying, “These brave Americans dedicated their lives to protecting our nation. They signed up knowing the risks and believing in the mission of serving their fellow Americans by keeping our nation safe. Our gratitude is profound, and their sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

Gen. Daniel Hokanson, the National Guard bureau chief, mourned the tragic deaths of the two Army National Guard members and the Border Patrol officer, stating, “We mourn these heartbreaking deaths. They are a tragic loss beyond words. We pray for the speedy recovery of a third Guard Soldier who was seriously injured. All of these people represent selfless service & the best of America.”

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, conveyed his condolences, stating that he is extending his “deepest condolences to the families of the National Guard soldier & Border Patrol agent who passed away & those who were injured in a helicopter crash near La Grulla, TX.”

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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