SAN DIEGO — The U.S. Army identified the two special operations soldiers killed Thursday evening when a Blackhawk helicopter crashed on San Clemente Island off the coast of Southern California.
The accident killed Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton, 22, of San Bernardino, California and Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta, 33, of Brick, New Jersey, the U.S. Special Operations Command office confirmed Saturday morning.
Three other service members were hurt in the accident, though details about their injuries and identities were not released.
Saturday’s statement did not provide new details about what led up to the crash, stating only that there was a “mishap” while “conducting aviation training on San Clemente Island.” FOX 5 news partner San Diego Union-Tribune reports the soldiers were on a Blackhawk helicopter when it crashed on the island.
“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 had deployed once to Afghanistan and multiple times to Iraq, officials said. Shelton had also served in Afghanistan. They will each receive the Meritorious Service Medal posthumously.
You can read full details on the men’s military backgrounds and achievements in the Army’s statement.
The helicopter crash was the second tragic training accident in the area in recent months, as nine service members were killed when a land and sea-faring tank known as an AAV sunk near the island in late July.