Soldier, Brick parishioner lauded for being ‘peacemaker’
The late Staff Sgt. Vincent P. Marketta exemplified the core values of the U.S. Army, observed Father Edward Blanchett during a Mass of Christian Burial Sept. 18 in Visitation Church, Brick. But Sgt. Marketta also remained faithful to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit he received during his Confirmation in that same church 19 years earlier.
Father Blanchett presided at Marketta’s funeral Mass before an estimated 200 family members, friends and fellow soldiers. Marketta died in an Aug. 27 Black Hawk helicopter crash during aviation training on San Clemente Island, Calif. Because of social distancing protocols, congregants were present for the Mass in the church proper as well as the lower church hall, where they viewed a live video stream.
Thirty-three-year-old Staff Sgt. Marketta, of Clarksville, Tenn., was born in Old Bridge. After residing in Gelnhausen, Germany, for a brief period, the family returned to the United States in 1996 and settled in Brick. A pivotal moment in Marketta’s life of faith and service had occurred May 16, 2001, the day of his Confirmation.
“In the Sacrament of Confirmation, we are called to be a personal witness, become soldiers in Christ,” Father Blanchett said in his homily. “Vinnie took that teaching to heart. He served God and country faithfully as a soldier,” Father Blanchett said.
“The U.S. Army holds seven core values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage,” he continued. “There is no coincidence those values mirror the values we are all called to by virtue of our Baptism in Christ: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of the Lord. This is how we are called to live in the Light of God.”
Marketta graduated from Brick High School in 2005, where he played left wing and center for its Dragons hockey team. On Sept. 11, 2011, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, and was a staff sergeant in Special Ops Aviation Regiment (SOAR) as 1st Crew Chief on the Black Hawk helicopter stationed in Fort Campbell, Ky., for the past eight years. He received multiple awards, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with “V” for valor, the Army Achievement Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.
While assigned to 160th SOAR, Marketta deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed multiple times to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
“He was doing as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches,” Father Blanchett said. “Those who are sworn to serve their country in the Armed Forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations if they carry out their duties honorably. They truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace,” he added, thanking the military personnel in the congregation for their service.
Turning to address Marketta’s parents, he continued, “Rich and Mary: It is abundantly clear you have spent all your lives instilling in Vinnie and his brothers to live life in love and duty. He followed his Savior, even going to heaven at the same age in his earthly ministry. It is a powerful testament to you as loving parents.”
Father Blanchett then addressed Marketta’s widow, Danielle, mother to the couple’s young daughter, Gianna.
“I can understand some of your pain from years ago when I lost my own wife,” the priest shared. “Through prayer and listening with ears, eyes and a heart of faith, we can find God’s plan for us continues. Take those experiences to further his work in the world and put the needs of others before your own.”
Father Blanchett concluded, “Jesus tells us peacemakers are truly blessed. We pray for God’s peace, his blessings on Vincent, his family, on those he had come to love. We may not understand why he was taken so soon … we must remember the life that Jesus has promised to us through the waters of Baptism and that the resurrection he promised us is indeed a great blessing. … The Church joins her prayers for each of you that God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, through the Son will grant us that strength, that guidance, that love, that peace.”
The helicopter crash in which Marketta died injured three other solders and also claimed the life of Sgt. Tyler M. Shelton, 22, of San Bernardino, Calif., whose name was mentioned in the intercessions during Marketta’s funeral Mass. Both Marketta and Shelton will receive the Meritorious Service Medal posthumously.
In addition to his parents, wife and daughter, Marketta is survived by his siblings, Nicholas A., Dominick A. and Anthony J. Marketta; paternal grandmother, Barbara Marketta, and maternal grandmother, Esther DeLeo; in-laws, Albert J. and Debbie Bonavita; sister-in-law, Janine Marley and husband, Thomas, and their two sons, Thomas and Aaron. He is predeceased by his paternal grandfather, Richard M. Marketta, and his maternal grandfather, Paul DeLeo.
Burial was at Brigadier Gen. William C. Doyle N.J. Veterans Cemetery, Arneytown. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Danielle Marketta for the benefit of Gianna Marketta at mealtrain.com/2yw9nq, or to the American Legion in memory of Vincent P. Marketta.