CORONADO, CA — A 33-year-old soldier from Brick was among two soldiers killed in a Black Hawk helicopter crash during training on San Clemente Island off the coast of Southern California, the U.S. Army announced Saturday.
Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, 33, of Brick, and Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton, 22 of San Bernardino, CA, died Thursday in the crash Thursday evening. Three other soldiers were injured.
Marketta served his country in Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom and during multiple tours in Iraq in Operation Inherent Resolve. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross among other several service medals.
"The loss of Staff Sgt. Marketta and Sgt. Shelton has left a scar in this regiment that will never completely heal," said Col. Andrew R. Graham, commander of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne). "Their level of dedication to the 160th SOAR (A) and their exemplary service in the Army is the embodiment of what it means to be a Night Stalker and a soldier. Our priority now is to ensure the families of our fallen warriors receive our complete support as we work through this tragedy together."
Both men will receive the Meritorious Service Medal posthumously, Army officials said.
Marketta enlisted in the Army in 2011 as a Black Hawk helicopter repairer. He was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in 2012. He spent 18 months as an aircraft repairer in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A). In 2014, He was made an MH-60M crew chief.
Shelton enlisted in the Army in 2016 as a Black Hawk repairer. He was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) in 2017. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A) where he spent eight months as an MH-60M Repairer.
In 2018, Shelton was made an MH-60M crew chief. Shelton deployed to Afghanistan and was awarded the Army Good Conduct Medal, among other medals.
The Night Stalkers are an elite regiment known for secret and dangerous operations conducted at night. They have been involved in such operations as the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden and the Battle of Mogadishu memorialized in the book Black Hawk Down. Soldiers in the 160th SOAR undergo rigorous training.
The accident happened less that a month after eight Marines from Camp Pendleton and one Navy sailor were killed when an amphibious assault vehicle sank July 30 in the ocean near San Clemente Island.
City News Service and Patch Staffer Paige Austin contributed to this report.