Tamaqua native Thomas Yelito receives Gen. MacArthur Award
SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Taking part in the presentation of the General Douglas MacArthur Leadership Award at the Pentagon are, from left, General George W. Casey, Jr., Chief of Staff of the Army; Thomas A. Yelito (receiving his award); and Juan M. Montero II, MD, of the General Douglas MacArthur Foundation.
Thomas A. Yelito did not enter military service seeking personal awards.
It has been his performance during that service that has brought the Tamaqua native acclaim.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Yelito received the Army's General Douglas MacArthur Leadership award recently. He is one of 28 recipients selected for 2009 from over 1,000 nominees. Selection is based on overall leadership performance throughout the calendar year. The award ceremony was conducted at the Pentagon and was presented by General George W. Casey, Chief of Staff of the Army.
This award recognizes officers who demonstrate the ideals for which General MacArthur stood Duty, Honor, Country.
CW2 Yelito serves with the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command. He has been deployed twice to Iraq for 18 months and twice to Afghanistan for 12 months.
Yelito has received other military honors, including the Bronze Star Medal 2nd, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal w/oak leaf, National Defense Service Medal with star, Vietnam Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with star, Iraqi Campaign Medal with two stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, Global War on Terror Service Medal, Air Force Overseas Ribbon-Short Tour, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, Air Force Training Ribbon, NATO Medal, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, Army Meritorious Unit Commendation and the Air Force Munitions Maintenance Badge.
Yelito was gracious about receiving the award and humbly stated that he shares the credit for it with his fellow agents and other service personnel with whom he worked.
"My feelings on receiving the award are mixed," said Yelito. "It is an honorable award to be recognized for and I am truly grateful to have been selected for demonstrating the leadership abilities that epitomized General Douglas MacArthur's ideals of Duty, Honor and Country.
"On the other hand, I would not have accomplished our mission without the help of our fellow agents from CID, OSI, NCIS and analysts and attorneys that also support our mission and all the soldiers, sailors and airmen that are supporting combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"The human toll and sacrifices made by individuals serving our country and their families that support them pale in comparison to any award. To be singled out to receive this award is the most prestigious award I have ever received, but being a part of a team, no matter what capacity it is in, is the rewarding accomplishment."
Yelito was appointed to WO1 in March 2004 through the U.S. Army Warrant Officer Candidate School at Fort Rucker, Alabama, and commissioned a CW2 in March 2006.
Yelito graduated in 1980 from Mansfield University, Mansfield, with a bachelors of arts degree in criminal justice. He is a graduate of the NCO Professional Leadership and Development Course, Military Police School, Protective Service Training Course, Hostage Negotiations School, Combating Terrorism Course, Apprentice Special Agent School and Warrant Officer Basic School.
Yelito's previous assignments include duty in Southeast Asia with the U.S. Air Force from July, 1974 to July, 1975; Special Agent/Protective Services Officer, Kuwait and Iraq, March, 2003 to February, 2004; Special Agent, Criminal Investigation Task Force, Iraq, April, 2006 to November, 2006; Special Agent, Criminal Investigation Task Force, Afghanistan, January, 2008 to July 2008; and Resident Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigation Task Force, Afghanistan, April, 2009 to August 2009.
He has been an Assistant Operations Officer with the Criminal Investigation Task Force, Fort Belvoir, Va., September, 2009 to present.
Yelito took his cue for his military career from his family, which had a history of service, he noted.
"My military service was inspired by my father, Alfred, who enlisted in the Merchant Marines when he was 15 years old during World War II, and his brothers who served in the army during the Korean War and my uncles on my mother's side, who served during World War II," Yelito mentioned.
"I always admired these men for their sacrifices and I wanted to carry on that commitment they and their families made for our country."
Yelito, who is stationed in Washington, D.C., is married to the former Joy Lang of Panama City, Fla. They have three children, Amber, Tyler and Rosie. He also credited them for their support of his military career,
"Since 2003, my family has made many sacrifices," he said. "The military soldier endures many hardships when you are deployed in a combat environment, but the battles at home the military wife must fight are often forgotten and unrewarded.
"My wife and children never knew if I would come back home in one piece after each deployment and that is an enormous burden for them to carry. I admire them for standing behind me during some dark times from 2003 to the present and I am proud of them for supporting me, and they are just as deserving of this award as I am.
"During the MacArthur award ceremony, General George Casey did take time to recognize the military wives of the awardees and that was the most fulfilling part of the award for me. That is what the military has meant in my life. It takes a family, teamwork and country to support a soldier and I have been fortunate to have the best," he concluded.