The soldier who died this week during a routine parachute training exercise at the Suffolk Executive Airport was a Green Beret from Maryland who had done tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to the West Virginia National Guard.
Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Sheperty, 36, was pronounced dead by local emergency services personnel after suffering fatal injuries from an airborne operations training exercise at 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, the guard said.
Sheperty was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne), out of Kingwood, W.Va., and was part of a high-altitude parachute team.
“This is an extremely sad day for West Virginia,” that state’s governor, Jim Justice, said in a statement. “We owe everything we have to the men and women who step up and make sacrifices to protect our country’s freedom. We will do everything we can to provide support to his family and will never forget his service and sacrifice to this great State and our Nation.”
Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, said in a news conference live-streamed from West Virginia that an investigation into Sheperty’s death is ongoing. But he also said there was no equipment malfunction.
Sheperty served as a senior weapons sergeant and joined the West Virginia Army National Guard in 2010. Before that, he served with the Marine Corps Special Operations Command after enlisting in 2002.
“This is a guy who didn’t have to be doing what he was doing yesterday,” Hoyer said. “He had served his time, he had served his country well. He had served in multiple combat zones. But I think it’s a testament to the type of person that he was.”
Sheperty has received the Bronze Star Medal, Purple Heart, Navy/Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon, and NATO medal, among other awards and decorations. The guard said he was a resident of Baltimore City, Md. and was originally from Virginia.
Hoyer said Sheperty likely joined the West Virginia National Guard instead of another state’s because it has a reputation for having some of the best special forces in the country. Hoyer said Sheperty’s fellow soldiers described him as someone who was happy and gregarious.
“This should be, I think, a reminder to all of us about the sacrifice that a small group of people in this nation make,” he said. “It’s a tragic event.”
© 2019 The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk, Va.)
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