By Connor Beach
The death of Commack resident and Air Force Master Sergeant Christopher Raguso on March 15 during what was to be his final tour of duty battling ISIS near the border of Iraq and Syria sent shockwaves through his community.
In addition to his service in the New York Air National Guard 106th Rescue Wing, Raguso, called “Goose” by his friends, was a Lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department at Engine 302 in Queens and a Lieutenant for the Commack Fire Department at Station 4.
Fire departments from around the Town of Huntington found different ways to honor the 18-year veteran of the volunteer fire service, but one fellow firefighter decided to take honoring Raguso’s sacrifice to new heights.
Greenlawn Fire Department Lieutenant, Eric Proctor, completed the “Jump for Goose” on July 7, a 24,000-foot HALO, or high altitude low opening, skydive event that fundraised for Raguso’s wife, Carmela, and two young daughters.
Proctor, who worked as an FDNY EMT with Raguso’s brother-in-law Anthony Dichiara, said he wanted to find a way to help the Raguso family after witnessing the positive impact that Chris had on so many people.
“In the fire service we’re all family, so I wanted to do something to help,” Proctor said.
The avid skydiver decided to combine his passion for jumping out of airplanes with his love of the fire service to create the fundraiser.
“I wanted to take the HALO jump and make it about something bigger than just a bucket list item to check off,” Proctor said. “Chris gave so much to us that it felt really good to give something back.”
Proctor met with Carmela Raguso to make sure that the family was comfortable with the idea.
“Everything was about her, her family and Chris, and I wanted to make sure that this would be a respectful and honorable event,” Proctor said.
The extreme altitude of the HALO jump meant that Proctor needed to wear specialized oxygen equipment, something he had never done before in his more than 200 previous skydives.
“It was a long way down,” Proctor laughed. “The unlimited visibility was unbelievable… it really puts things into perspective for you.”
In addition to the specialized equipment, Proctor was presented with Raguso’s uniform shirt by Carmela to wear during the jump, along with another veteran’s purple heart.
“Putting on that uniform before the jump was a humbling and chilling experience… buttoning up that shirt was probably the most serious part of the day,” Proctor said.
Proctor said he would continue to raise funds to support the “Jump for Goose” event until Nov. 1, and that 100 percent of the money raised will go towards helping with the education of Raguso’s daughters.
“Something terrible happened, but it brings people together,” Proctor said. “The best thing that we can ask for is to be there for Chris’ family in the years to come and remember and honor an American hero.”
Anyone who would like to donate to “Jump for Goose” can visit Gofundme.com/jumpforgoose for more information.