A U.S. Army soldier from Brick Township who was assigned to the elite 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, better known as the “Night Stalkers,” was one of two soldiers who died Thursday during a training exercise when their UH-60 Black Hawk crashed off California.
Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, 33, of Brick, New Jersey, died Aug. 27, from injuries sustained during an aircraft mishap while conducting aviation training on San Clemente Island, California. The island, located roughly off Carlsbad, falls under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Navy, and is home to an airstrip and an urban warfare training facility. The 160th SOAR is often responsible for inserting special operators into combat under the toughest of conditions, most famously the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in 2011, and trains for such infiltration and exfiltration operations on the island.
Marketta, a native of Brick, 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. In 2014, Marketta remained in 1st Battalion, 160th SOAR for service as an MH-60M Crew Chief.
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 the 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.
Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton, 22, of San Bernardino, Calif., also died in the crash.
“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 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.”
Both Marketta and Shelton will receive the Meritorious Service Medal posthumously.