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Riverhead native son killed in military helicopter crash in Iraq, remembered as ‘a true leader’

Tech. Sgt. Dashan Briggs was among the seven service members killed in the crash of a U.S. HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter in western Iraq March 15. Photo: Facebook

A native son was lost in the military helicopter crash in Iraq Thursday.

Staff Sgt. Dashan Briggs, a 2007 Riverhead High School graduate, was among the seven military personnel who perished in the crash of an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter in western Iraq. Four of them, including Briggs, were members of the 106th Air National Guard in Westhampton Beach.

The decorated airman leaves behind his wife Rebecca and the father of two young children.

“My heart is broken,” said Riverhead High School varsity football coach Leif Shay. “He was one of the great ones, a true leader. He exemplified what it means to be a man.”

Briggs was an outside linebacker and a running back for the Blue Waves. He was tough and smart, his former coach said. “He had great intelligence. He always knew he had a future. I always knew he would do great things,” Shay said.

Briggs enlisted shortly after high school, the coach said.

“He had a beautiful family,” Shay said. “He was an incredible young man.”

His friends and former classmates in Riverhead posted condolences on Facebook.

“He was a beautiful and genuine person inside and out and gave his life for his country,” wrote Nicole Cancel.

The U.S. military said the crash is under investigation but it did not appear to be the result of enemy action.

“All personnel aboard were killed in the crash,” Brig. Gen. Jonathan P. Braga, director of operations, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a press release today. “This tragedy reminds us of the risks our men and women face every day in service of our nations. We are thinking of the loved ones of these service members today.”

Denise Civiletti
Denise is a veteran local reporter and editor, an attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including a “writer of the year” award from the N.Y. Press Association in 2015. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website. Email Denise.