News Search


106th Rescue Wing Airmen Rappel at Islanders Game for Veterans Day Tribute

  • Published
  • By SSgt Kevin J. Donaldson
  • 106th Rescue Wing

Four Airmen from the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing participated in a ceremonial puck drop at the National Hockey League's New York Islanders Military Appreciation Night game against the Washington Capitals at UBS Arena on Nov. 11.

The Airmen, Technical Sgt. Eric Cooley, Staff Sgt. Ian Simonsen, Staff Sgt. John Kosequat, all pararescuemen, and Technical Sgt. Jonathan Harvey, a survival, evasion, resistance and escape specialist, rappelled from the rafters of the arena during the National Anthem.

Following their descent, the Airmen proceeded to center ice, where Kosequat dropped the puck between Islanders captain Anders Lee and Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin.

Kosequat, a member of the 106th Rescue Wing, Westhampton Beach, N.Y. for 10 years, expressed his excitement about the longstanding relationship between the unit and the Islanders.

"As a lifelong hockey fan, this collaboration has always excited me," Kosequat said. "Being part of a professional hockey game in such a significant role was beyond my wildest dreams. It was an incredible experience that I'm both honored and grateful for."

The collaboration between the 106th and the Islanders was further highlighted earlier in the year. On Sept. 8, 2023, Islanders mascots Sparky and Nyisles visited the wing to take recruitment photos for the Islanders' yearbook and to film a skit. This skit was later shown during the Nov. 11 game.

The Islanders players donated over $6,000 for tickets for veterans and their families as gratitude and appreciation for their service, according to Ann Rina, the executive director of community relations for the Islanders.

At the game, each seat contained an “I Salute” placard where fans could show support for veterans and hold them up during the game.

Veteran’s Day is one of the most important days of the year, according to Rina.

“Military Appreciation Night is all about thanking the brave men and women who are protecting our freedom and offering them an opportunity to come to an Islanders game with their friends and family,” she said. “It just means the world to our entire organization.”

The 106th Rescue Wing, based in F.S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, operates and maintains the HC-130J Combat King II search and rescue aircraft, and the HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopter. The 106th Rescue Wing is home to a special warfare squadron with pararescuemen and combat rescue officers, specializing in rescue and recovery, and deploys for domestic and overseas operations.