Main Content


Remembering a True American Hero, Chief Warrant Officer 2 & Best Luther Fire Dept. Firefighter Casey Frankoski

This article is a direct street report from our correspondent and has not been edited by the 1st Responder newsroom.

RENSSELAER COUNTY, NY - On March 8, 2024, tragedy struck along the United States border of Mexico when three local service members from the Army National Guard and one border patrol officer were involved in a helicopter crash near the Rio Grande city. The two pilots, Chief Warrant Officer 2 John Grassia and Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski, unfortunately were killed in the line of duty while serving and protecting their country.

This news hit the Capital Region communities hard. On March 18, 2024 both helicopter pilots were ferried back to the Capital Region. When the aircraft landed, hundreds of family members, friends, National Guard military members, civilian employees, local politicians, leaders and the governor of New York met the aircraft at the Albany International Airport. A ceremony at the airport was conducted before the two pilots were returned to their cities. 

While the ceremony was going on at the airport, hundreds of local first responders from throughout the entire upstate New York region gathered to make sure both soldiers were brought home with the highest honor. The first procession with Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski left the airport and made their way towards the city of Rensselaer. During the voyage home, members of the Shaker Road Fire Department and numerous members of the community lined in front of the firehouse to pay their respects to the fallen soldier. As Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski was making her way home, residents in the City of Rensselaer poured into the streets and decorated the front of their homes, businesses, and lined their properties with American flags. Large banners supporting Chief Warrant Officer 2 Frankoski were placed on nearby bridges. As the procession made their way towards the City of Rensselaer, members of the City of Albany's Fire Department lined the roadway near Albany Memorial Hospital and proudly saluted the soldier as she went by. 

Firefighters and members of law enforcement from all over the Capital Region lined the procession route along Broadway in the City of Rensselaer. As word traveled throughout the route that the procession had just reached the Dunn Memorial Bridge, a massive motorcade led by members of law enforcement made their way on to Broadway where hundreds of other members of law enforcement stood in solidarity in front of the Rensselaer Police Department, where the Rensselaer and East Greenbush Fire Department had a massive American flag flying in the wind. Members of the community stood holding American flags next to firefighters and police officers showing support for fallen National Guard member Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski. As far as the eye could see down Broadway, hundreds of American flags flew proudly as the procession made its way past each street where firefighters blocked the roadway and stood next to their apparatus saluting. As the procession crested the hill, members of the community held up signs of support for the fallen soldier. The procession made its way to the north fire station where members of Casey’s fire department stood with her turnout gear, saluting the procession as it passed. The motorcade made its way down Broadway to Lyons funeral home where it was met with a massive presence of veterans, members of the emergency services, family and friends. Calling hours for the week was extended throughout the entire day Thursday, as thousands of people came out to show their support to the Frankoski family. 

Casey Nicole Frankoski grew up in Rensselaer County and went to Columbia High School where she was a member of the varsity bowling league, dedicating 5 to 6 days a week during the season, making her way to the national junior college championship bowling team. She was a cheerleader for Pop Warner football, played softball for the East Greenbush girls softball league, and was a fun-loving high schooler that loved country music, her friends and her family.

Casey was also a member of the Best Luther Fire Department where she was an interior firefighter and served next to her brother and father in the department. Casey loved the outdoors, hiking, fishing and spending time at camp in Alpine Lake with her friends and family, playing corn hole and doing what she loved the most. Casey truly loved and treasured spending time with her family and friends. One of Casey's most prized possessions was her jet ski that she got to drive around the lake at camp. Casey worked hard for that jet ski. 

Casey also loved to travel and had gone around the world to multiple countries. She was a concert junkie for country music, and was notorious for always somehow making her way to the VIP area, or down in the pit as close as she could to the stage. Casey also got to meet numerous country stars along the way, one of them being Drew Baldridge who remembered Casey from his concert seven years ago and wrote on this Facebook after visiting Casey's family at their home: “Y’all meet Casey Frankoski. She was a remarkable National Guard helicopter pilot who tragically lost her life last week in a crash patrolling the Texas-Mexico border. When we pulled up to the venue last night in Albany, NY we got a message about Casey and how she was a big country music fan. They said if she was in town she would be right down in the front row, but she was out serving her country and lost her life doing it. We decided to stop by and visit her family and friends and thank them for raising an amazing young woman who sacrificed it all for her country. The family sent me this picture of me and her from 7 years ago. My heart breaks for them! What an amazing young woman gone too soon. Thank you for your service Casey and your sacrifice. You’ll never be forgotten! Y’all please send your condolences in the comments and help me send up some prayers for this beautiful family!” 

Casey was hard to forget after you met her. Her smile lit up every room that she walked into, and her personality made everybody in the room feel welcomed. Casey was a true genuine individual who was fun loving, hardworking, a natural born leader, determined, empathetic, lived life to the fullest, and a person that everybody could turn to no matter what. In 2016, Casey joined the Army National Guard, Alpha Company of the 1st Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment and her family supported her decision to serve and protect her country as she grew up in an entire family of first responders. After spending many years in the National Guard, Casey went to and graduated from Chief Warren Officer school in 2019. After being promoted to Chief Warren Officer 2, she pursued her passion and went to flight school in 2021 in Alabama to become a UH 60 Blackhawk pilot. During her time in the National Guard, Casey served a nine-month tour in Kuwait and was most recently deployed in October 2024 to the United States border near Mexico. During her time in the National Guard, Casey was a true role model to other soldiers and was always an individual her fellow soldiers could turn to whenever they needed anything, no matter the situation. Casey was known as the aviation mom of her unit, as she took care of everybody as a good soldier would. 

The community showed overwhelming support from her hometown and all of her family and friends. Casey received full military honors for her service to her country. During her final procession to the Saratoga National Cemetery, over 100 first responders and veterans lined the roadway along the route to honor and pay respect to the fallen local hero in a final sendoff. Upon arrival to the cemetery, the massive motorcade being led by members of the veteran group the patriot guard drove under another large American flag being flown by the MacBoston Memorial. During the ceremony at the Saratoga National Cemetery, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Casey Frankoski received a full military sendoff, including a 21-gun salute and taps. Casey’s family was presented with her flag. During the end of the ceremony a full Blackhawk unit flew overhead to give their final goodbye to their fellow pilot.

Casey was taken from us too soon. Her commitment to our country and her service will forever be honored. Casey was a true American hero and left her mark on many people in this world. Casey may be gone, but she will never be forgotten for the mark she has left on this world.

avatar image

No information from the author.