Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis, Major, USAF (Fallen)May 22, 1926 – March 15, 2018
Major Christopher “Tripp” Zanetis of the 106th Rescue Wing, New York Air National Guard, was killed on March 15, 2018 when a United States Air Force helicopter crashed during a mission along the Iraq-Syria border. He was 37.
A native of Carmel, Indiana, Tripp graduated from Carmel High School in 1999 where he was on the diving team and a member of the Ambassador’s show choir. He received a bachelor’s degree in politics from New York University in 2003 where he graduated cum laude. While at NYU, Tripp was a leader on the Student Senate and President of the student body. He was also a member of the swimming & diving team.
Tripp was living three blocks from the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The morning of the attack, Tripp rushed to Ground Zero where he volunteered until midnight. Inspired by his experience on 9/11, Tripp joined the Fire Department of the City of New York in 2004 and served on the Lower East Side of Manhattan at Engine 28 Ladder 11. Tripp was promoted to Fire Marshal and, in the course of his duties, was recognized for his bravery as part of the FDNY’s Bureau of Fire Investigation’s Citywide South.
In 2008, Tripp joined the Air National Guard, the Air Force component of the National Guard, where he trained to fly the Air Force combat search and rescue helicopter, the HH-60G PaveHawk. He deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2011 and 2012 with the 106th Rescue Wing. This past year, before his most recent deployment to Iraq, Tripp upgraded to Instructor Pilot. Tripp received the Meritorious Service Medal and five Air Medals for combat missions.
In 2014, while still on active duty, Tripp entered Stanford Law School where he graduated with pro bono distinction in 2017. While at Stanford, Tripp served as the co-president of the Stanford Law Veteran’s Organization, co-produced the Stanford Law School musical, facilitated Stanford Law’s inaugural OutLaw Conference on LGBTQ Advocacy in the Workplace, and was a member of both the International Refugee Assistance Project and the Stanford Journal of International Law. During that time, he continued his service as a National Guard helicopter pilot providing civilian search and rescue services. Tripp also interned with the Office of Legal Affairs at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium and participated in the Stanford International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic. In 2017, he was awarded the National LGBT Bar Association’s Student Leadership Award.
Always true to himself, Tripp came out as gay to his family at the age of fifteen. He entered the military under “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and served openly upon its repeal in 2011. To that end, he was an outspoken advocate, particularly for LGBTQ and veterans’ issues.
In addition to his many accomplishments, Tripp trained his beloved Malinois, Nyx, to respond only to German commands. Tripp’s friends knew that any social plans needed to be scheduled around Nyx’s walks and that Sunday nights were reserved for pizza. He was a great cook, avid video gamer, CrossFit instructor, talented pianist, beautiful singer, and most important, a loving son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew, boyfriend, and friend.
At the time of his death, Tripp was an Associate at Debevoise & Plimpton, a Major in the United States Air Force, and an FDNY Fire Marshal.
Tripp was predeceased by his grandparents, Mary M. Zanetis and John M. Zanetis, who served in the United States Army Air Force during WWII, and grandfather, Judge Charles Galbreath of the Court of Criminal Appeals in Tennessee, who also served our country in the United States Marine Corps during WWII.
Tripp is survived by his parents, Sarah and John M. Zanetis; grandmother, Joyce Galbreath; sisters, Angela Zanetis and Britt Zanetis; nephew, Beau Zanetis; aunts and uncles, Charles Zanetis, Steve and Vicki Zanetis, Mary Ella Walker, William Zanetis, Michael and Denise Zanetis, Martha Zanetis, Catherine Zanetis, Joseph Zanetis, Sandra and Luke Winder, Michael Galbreath; his boyfriend, Jean Pouget-Abadie; many cousins and his beloved dog, Nyx. He was also admired by many loving friends, fellow airmen in the Air Force, fellow firefighters in the FDNY, his fellow attorneys at Debevoise & Plimpton, as well as his peers at NYU and SLS.
On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, there will be a celebration of Tripp’s remarkable life at Rise Bar at 859 9th Avenue, New York from 6:00-9:00PM EST.
On Thursday, March 29, 2018, at 11:00AM EST, there will be a processional ceremony led by the FDNY from Engine 28 Ladder 11 to Washington Square Park. A reception for family and friends at New York University will follow.
In lieu of flowers, please send donations to: The Fisher House Foundation, The New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund, or Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.