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Staff Sergeant Patrick Ryan "Tico" Pentico

Staff Sergeant Patrick Ryan "Tico" Pentico

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Stationed: RAF Mildenhall, UK
Unit Assigned: 7th Special Operations Squadron
Date Fell: Thursday, March 31st, 2005
Albania Plane Crash Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery

Albania Plane Crash Memorial with SSgt Pentico in the Arlington National Cemetery, VA

Purple Heart MedalMeritorious Service Medal

Staff Sgt Patrick Ryan "Tico" Pentico, age 32, from Hanksville, Utah, was killed in a plane crash in Albania.

He was born on March 30th, 1973 and was a Loadmaster on the MC130H Talon II.

An MC-130H Combat Talon II, USAF 87-0127, c/n 5118, "Wrath 11", of the 7th Special Operations Squadron, 352d Special Operations Group, RAF Mildenhall, departed Tirana-Rinas Airport, Albania, for a night training mission to work on terrain-following and avoidance skills, airdrops and landing using night-vision goggles.

The aircraft was flying 300 feet above the mountainous terrain when it was approaching a ridge. The airplane was not able to clear the ridge and stalled as the crew attempted to climb away. The aircraft struck the ridge, destroying the aircraft and killing all nine crew members on board, including SSgt Pentico.

He was born the son of Glen K. and Susie Ryan Pentico. Growing up in Hanksville, Utah, he explored the mountains on his motorbike and had a fearless spirit about him.

He attended Wayne High School where as a member of the wrestling team, he defeated opponents who outweighed him by 100 pounds. The team won the state title every year from 1988-92 and he graduated in 1991.

On March 13, 2000, he married Melissa Dickey at her parents home in Orient, Washington. The couple had been living in England for more than three years while stationed at RAF Mildenhall.

In 2004, with one engine down and their plane heavily damaged by enemy fire, Patrick and his crew safely landed a C-130. All 58 people on board survived. But he never bragged about his accomplishments. The Airlift/Tanker Association awarded Patrick and his crew the Gen. P.K. Carlton Award for Valor for safely landing a battle-damaged C-130. The plane was transporting special operations forces during a mission in the opening days of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM when it received heavy enemy fire. During the mission, the plane took 19 hits from anti-aircraft artillery fire, one shell shattered the pilot’s windscreen. The plane landed with three of the four engines operating. Some of Patrick's closest friends never knew he had received the award.

He is survived by his wife, Melissa Pentico, his parents, Susie and Kevin Hatch, and Glen Pentico, siblings, Parvonae, Cortney and Cole Pentico. He was preceded in death by his step-mother, Sherry Pentico, his grandparents, George and LaVaun Pentico; and Les Ryan and Marvel Ryan.

He is buried at Elgin Cemetery in Elgin, Utah.