Two U.S. Army special operations soldiers were killed when their Black Hawk helicopter crashed during training at San Clemente Island, California on Thursday.
The two soldiers killed were identified in an Army press statement Saturday as Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, 33, of Brick, New Jersey, and Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton, 22, of San Bernardino, California. The two died from injuries sustained in a helicopter training mishap, according to Army the statement.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported three more people were injured in the Thursday accident though the Army has not identified those injured or disclosed the severity of their injuries.
The exact details of the accident are unclear. In a statement reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune Friday, the Army said, “The area has been secured and an investigation into the incident is underway.”
Marketta and Shelton both served in the Army as 15T UH-60 “Black Hawk” Repairers assigned to the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne).
“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. We ask that you keep Staff Sgt. Marketta, Sgt. Shelton, their Families and fellow Night Stalkers in your thoughts and prayers.”
Marketta joined the Army in 2011 and had deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed multiple times to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. His decorations included 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 joined the Army in 2016. His decorations included 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.
Marketta and Shelton will both posthumously receive the Meritorious Service Medal.
San Clemente Island is about 70 miles west of San Diego and is controlled by the U.S. Navy, through Naval Base Coronado. The island has an airfield and a bombing range, as well as training facilities for U.S. special operations forces.