The two soldiers who were killed Thursday during an “aircraft mishap” while conducting an aviation training exercise on San Clemente Island were identified as special operations soldiers, according to the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC).
Staff Sgt. Vincent Marketta, 33, of Brick, New Jersey and Sgt. Tyler Shelton, 22, of San Bernardino were confirmed as the deceased Saturday by the USASOC.
“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), in a statement. “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.”
Staff Sgt. Marketta was a decorated soldier who enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2011 as a 15th UH-60 “Black Hawk” Repairer. He remained in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A) as an MH-60M Crew Chief for service.
Sgt. Shelton enlisted in the U.S. Army in 2016 and collected several accolades during his career. He enlisted as a 15th UH-60 “Black Hawk” repairer and was later assigned to 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR (A) for service as an MH-60M Crew Chief.
The two will posthumously receive the Meritorious Service Medal.
“Our priority now is to ensure the Families of our fallen warriors receive our complete support as we work through this tragedy together,” Col. Graham said in his statement. "We ask that you keep Staff Sgt. Marketta, Sgt. Shelton, their Families and fellow Night Stalkers in your thoughts and prayers.”
Three other personnel were injured in the incident, officials said. The extent of their injuries is unclear.