September 1, 2011

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Dutchess Marine awarded posthumous Medal of Valor

Capt. Yurista

STEWART AIRPORT – Nearly three years after his death on October 27 2008, Captain Trevor Yurista of Pleasant Valley was awarded the National Intelligence Medal of Valor at the Stewart Air National Guard Base on Wednesday.

The 32-year-old served as an intelligence and targeting officer for the Force Reconnaissance Platoon of the Second Battalion 7th Marines when he was killed by an improvised exploding device in Helmand Province, Afghanistan.

Presenting the medal to Yurista's family was Lt. General James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence and an Air Force retiree, who lauded Captain Yurista's incredible heroism in locating an IED factory and targeting it for an airstrike.

According to Clapper, Yurista's platoon overcame an enemy ambush en route to the Taliban stronghold, where they fought for four hours before successfully destroying it. But the Force Recon platoon was ambushed a second time during their withdrawal to friendly lines, where Yurista's vehicle was caught in an IED blast. It was his third tour of the Middle East, his first two having been in Iraq.

"Trevor loved the Corps; he loved his country, his family and he loved children," said Clapper, who remarked on Yurista donating his care packages to Iraqi children. Being a high school soccer player in Pleasant Valley, Yurista had no trouble sharing in Iraq's favored sport with its youth by playing with them and donating soccer balls.

While Yurista didn't get one of the open spots for pilots at Officer Candidates School, he called his mother's youngest brother, Allan Ashline, and told him ground intelligence seemed tailor-made for him.

"Intelligence was his true calling. There wasn't anything he could not sit down, assess, figure out and accomplish," said Ashline. "He wasn't impressed by fame, stardom or notoriety. He would have made a good covert intelligence operative; he just had a way of standing out while blending in."

Nicknamed "Turbo" for his assertiveness and gumption, Captain Yurista had a degree from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and was invited to join the F.B.I. but kept the offer on hold because of his latest tour. Gary Quick, a former Marine and friend to Yurista, said it was because he couldn't leave his men behind.

"He was honorable and committed; I can't say enough about him. He was afraid of nothing, everything a Marine could ever want to be.
His aunt and uncle, Robert and Karen Gravel, had fond memories of him cleaning pumpkins and dressing up for Halloween with his niece and nephew.

"He was a daredevil. If he wanted to try something he tried it," said his aunt, referencing Yurista's ambition of becoming a pilot.


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