Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Sheperty had served his country with courage, honor and distinction long before joining the West Virginia Army National Guard in 2010.
The 36-year-old senior weapons sergeant with the Kingwood-based 2nd Battalion of the 19th Special Forces Group (Airborne) served multiple tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan after enlisting in the U.S. Marine Corps in 2002 and later serving with the elite Marine Corps Special Operations Command. During his deployments, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal and a Purple Heart among other awards and decorations.
On Wednesday, Sheperty died of injuries suffered during a routine training operation with his high-altitude parachute team near Suffolk, Virginia, according to Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, the adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard.
“Nick didn’t have to be doing what he was doing yesterday,” Hoyer said in a news conference at West Virginia National Guard Headquarters. “He’d already done his duty and served his time in uniform.”
But Sheperty, Hoyer said, “lived the Army values of duty, respect and personal courage every day.” If people want to honor Sheperty and his service, Hoyer suggested they “go out and live his Army values, and help make this country a little better tomorrow than it is today.”
Sheperty, a native of Virginia and a resident of Baltimore City, Maryland, chose to be in the West Virginia Army National Guard because it has the reputation of having some of the best Special Forces units in the country, Hoyer said.
“It’s a dangerous job, just being in the military,” Hoyer said. “Being in a Special Forces high-altitude parachute unit is especially dangerous.”
But despite the inherent danger, the people in Sheperty’s unit described him “as a happy, gregarious, great guy,” the general said.
Hoyer expressed his condolences to Sheperty’s mother, family and friends, and said he would remember the soldier for being “the true patriot that he was.”
All too often, Hoyer said, “people forget the sacrifice made by the less than one-half of one percent of the population” who serve in the military, “and the tremendous sacrifices some our families have to make. Let us never forget the life and legacy of Sgt. 1st Class Nick Sheperty, the sacrifice he made, or the sacrifice his family will endure from this tragic incident.”
Hoyer said the accident that claimed Sheperty’s life remains under investigation, but declined to provide further details, other than to say equipment failure is not believed to have played a role.