FDNY firefighters killed in Iraq remembered for determination to help others

NEW YORK -- A memorial service was held Tuesday for two New York City firefighters killed in Iraq last week, along with five other service members. Tripp Zanetis and Chris Raguso were both cut from the same cloth -- determined to help people, no matter where or how. "CBS Evening News" anchor Jeff Glor spoke to their former colleagues and friends.

Cliff Brown, a firefighter from Engine 28, said Zanetis "could have done anything. We would say, 'You're certainly too good for this job,' but he had the mind, the tools to do anything he wanted and he chose to help people."

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From left to right: Master Sgt. Christopher Raguso, Capt. Christopher "Tripp" Zanetis

CBS News

Zanetis, 37, was born in Indiana. In addition to being a firefighter, he was a graduate of NYU and Stanford Law School.

"All of the jobs that he had, and all that he was studying for, they were all about giving back," Lt. Peter Sapienza, Engine 28, said. "Nothing about it was monetary. He lived very modestly but he could have worked anywhere he wanted to work. After 9/11 he wanted to be a New York City fireman because the city was hurting and he wanted to contribute, he wanted to help. Whatever he decided he wanted to do, within months he would be immersed in it. I mean, he would read books about Japan written in German."

That surprised Lt. Chris Gorzynski of Ladder Company 113.

"That's true, yeah. He spoke multiple languages," Sapienza said.

Tom Sabella, supervising fire marshal of the Bureau of Fire Investigations, said Zanetis "just set such a high bar for everybody to attain."

Chris Raguso, from Long Island, served in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and recently rescued flood victims during Hurricane Harvey. He was decorated by the FDNY six times for valor.

"When a guy comes on the job you go to some easy fires and you don't realize how dangerous your job is," Frank Valerio said. "You know one night you know a few years back, Chris was working we had a real bad one and I remember after the fire was out you know we were all banged up and you know Chris he had that feeling like it was just, 'Wow, we all went in there. We were in deep and we all got out.'"

"And he still kept putting himself in harm's way to serve?" Glor asked.

"No question."

"Whether it was here in the middle of a fire or in Iraq."

"Yup."

Gorzynski said, "I mean, that's what his unit did, they were there to jump in when other members were injured or killed and execrate them."

"It took us five seconds to find six guys who wanted to say amazing things about them and I think there were 50 more were lined up. I can't think of a better reflection of what kind of people they were, men they were," Glor said.

Brown replied, "One of our retired members, he's a vet, he had some of the best advice I felt we heard yet and he's telling us not to mourn them, uh because they were doing exactly what they should have been doing, and they wouldn't have had it any other way."