Army identifies Night Stalkers killed in California Black Hawk training crash

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Two members of the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) died Aug, 27 from injuries sustained when their MH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed during an aircraft mishap while training in California, officials announced Saturday morning.

Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, 33, of Brick, New Jersey, and Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton, 22, of San Bernardino, California, were killed late Thursday during aviation training on San Clemente Island, according to an Army Special Operations Command media release. Three other soldiers were injured in the mishap, the Army announced on Friday.

“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), according to the media release. “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.”

Marketta enlisted in the Army in 2011 as a 15T UH-60 Black Hawk repairer. He was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) upon completing advanced individual training, and the regiment’s extensive training and assessment program in 2012. He spent 18 months as an aircraft repairer in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A). In 2014, Marketta remained in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A) for service as an MH-60M crew chief.

While assigned to 160th SOAR (A), Marketta deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed multiple times to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.

He graduated from enlisted combat skills; Combatives Level 1; MH-60 Maintainers Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School; MH-60 Non-Rated Crew Member Course; the Basic and Advanced Leaders courses; and the MH-60 Flight Instructors Course.

Marketta’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal with “V” device; Air Medal with “C” device; Air Medal; Army Commendation Medal with C device (2OLC); Army Commendation Medal; Army Achievement Medal (1OLC); Army Good Conduct Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal (campaign star); Inherent Resolve Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon (numeral 2); Army Service Ribbon; NATO Medal; Combat Action Badge; and the Basic Aviator’s Badge.

Shelton, a native of San Bernardino, California, enlisted the Army in 2016, as a 15T UH-60 Black Hawk repairer. He was assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) upon completing advanced individual training, and the regiment’s extensive training and assessment program in 2017. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A), where he spent eight months as an MH-60M repairer. In 2018, Shelton remained in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A), for service as an MH-60M crew chief.

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While assigned to 160th SOAR (A), Shelton deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

He graduated from enlisted combat skills; Combatives Level 1; MH-60 Maintainers Course; Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape School; MH-60 Non-Rated Crew Member Course; and the Basic Leaders Course.

Shelton’s awards and decorations include the Army Good Conduct Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal (campaign star); Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon; Army Service Ribbon; and the Basic Aviator’s Badge.

Both Marketta and Shelton will receive the Meritorious Service Medal posthumously,

“Our priority now is to ensure the Families of our fallen warriors receive our complete support as we work through this tragedy together,” said Graham. “We ask that you keep Staff Sgt. Marketta, Sgt. Shelton, their Families and fellow Night Stalkers in your thoughts and prayers.”

San Clemente, a U.S. Navy-controlled island 70 miles west of San Diego, has an airfield, a bombing range and a training facility used by special operations units. The island falls under the command of Naval Base Coronado.

This incident comes after nine service members were killed July 30 in an amphibious assault vehicle while returning from a training raid at San Clemente Island.

About

Howard Altman is an award-winning editor and reporter who was previously the military reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and before that the Tampa Tribune, where he covered USCENTCOM, USSOCOM and SOF writ large among many other topics.

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