Operation Iraqi Freedom, Fallen Heroes, Iraq War 03/19/03

Keith R Mariotti

Galveston, Texas

June 27, 2005

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
39 Army CWO 4

Army's 3rd Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division

Fort Bragg, North Carolina

 Killed near Taji, Iraq, when their AH-64D Apache helicopter was shot.down by a surface to air missle.

Maryland soldier dies in Iraq chopper crash

Associated Press

ELKTON, Md. — A soldier who grew up in Cecil County and his co-pilot were killed when their helicopter crashed in Iraq, according to family members.

Keith Mariotti, 39, died after the Apache AH-64 attack helicopter crashed in Mishahda, about 20 miles north of Baghdad, according to his mother, Nancy Mariotti of Elkton.

“He died doing what he loved to do,” she said. “Ever since he was old enough to play with a toy airplane, he always wanted to fly. He ate, slept and breathed airplanes,” she told the Cecil Whig.

Army Warrant Officer Steven Shephard, 30, of Purcell, Okla., was the other pilot aboard the AH-64 Apache helicopter that crashed on Monday, his uncle, Earl Shephard, said.

The Department of Defense could not confirm the deaths of Shephard or Mariotti, but said the crash remains under investigation.

Officials from Aberdeen Proving Ground went to Nancy Mariotti’s home Monday to tell her of her son’s death, but she had heard about it earlier that day from her daughter-in-law, Denise Adomines, formerly of Rising Sun. Army officials from Fort Bragg, N.C., went to Adomines’ home near the military base to tell her that her husband had been killed in combat.

Keith Mariotti attended Rising Sun Elementary School and Good Shepherd School in Perryville before graduating from West Nottingham Academy in Colora in 1984.

Mariotti joined the Civil Air Patrol of Delaware, and after high school he joined the Delaware National Guard, where he became a crew chief and learned to fly helicopters.

His passion for flying led him to Arizona, where a National Guard unit there sought experienced helicopter pilots, and he landed a job performing logistics in the air transport industry.

His job took him to Oregon and later to Galveston, Texas, where he flew employees by helicopter to oil and gas rigs.

Mariotti joined the Army for Apache helicopter flight training and career opportunities.

A witness to the crash, Mohammad Naji, told Associated Press Television News he saw two helicopters flying toward Mishahda when “a rocket hit one of them and destroyed it completely in the air.”

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