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The U.S. Army has identified the two Special Operations soldiers killed in an MH-60M helicopter crash in California on Aug. 27.
Five soldiers from the storied 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR), also called the Night Stalkers, were on board the Black Hawk when it went down during a routine training exercise. Two on board were killed and the other three soldiers injured.
Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, 33, and Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton, 22, both assigned to the 160th SOAR, were killed during an aircraft mishap while conducting aviation training on San Clemente Island, California.
“The loss of Staff Sgt. Marketta and Sgt. Shelton has left a scar in this Regiment that will never completely heal,” said 160th commander Col. Andrew R. Graham. “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.”
Marketta, a native of Brick, New Jersey, enlisted in the Army in 2011, as a 15T UH-60 Black Hawk repairer. He was assigned to the 160th SOAR (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) and became an MH-60M crew chief in 2014, according to the Army.
While assigned to 160th SOAR (A), Marketta deployed to Afghanistan and served multiple tours in Iraq.
Shelton, a native of San Bernardino, California, enlisted in the Army in 2016, also as a UH-60 repairer. He was assigned to the 160th in 2017 and spent eight months as an MH-60M repairer before becoming a crew chief in 2018. While assigned to 160th SOAR (A), Shelton deployed to Afghanistan.
The MH-60M is a highly-modified special operations version of the Army’s Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk. The version flown by the Night Stalkers includes more powerful GE T706 engines, an aerial refueling probe, a Rockwell Collins Common Avionics Architecture System (CAAS) cockpit and SOF-specific sensors and targeting systems. Among other weapons, the helicopters can carry radar warning receivers, M60, M240 or GAU-2 machine guns and other classified capabilities.