Navy Veteran Is Welcomed Home One Last Time After Dying in Afghanistan
Rest in peace.
An American hero was welcomed home to New Jersey one last time at the end of last month after he tragically lost his life while serving in Afghanistan.
NJ.com reported that Kevin Yali was a 27-year-old Navy veteran who was killed by a mortar shell less than three weeks after he got to Afghanistan, where he was working as a private contractor. He had previously served four deployments in places like Japan and Hawaii, but Yali had always wanted to go to Afghanistan. That’s why he found his own way there when the military did not send him.
“He was a great kid, very, very well respected,” said Midland Park Police Chief Mike Powderley.
Terry Almor, Yali’s elementary school music teacher, remembered the veteran for his smile and athleticism as she watched the procession accompanying his casket.
“I was so saddened to hear he died,” Almor said. “I wanted to come honor him and be here for him and his family.”
“My heart is just wrenching,” added Hilary Dravis, who was also watching the procession.
“He was always kind to everybody,” she continued. “I don’t ever remember hearing of him doing anything unkind.”
Yali Remembered For His Smile
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She went on to say that she will never forget Yali’s smile.
“Kevin always had a smile on his face,” Dravis said. “And it was the type of smile that you couldn’t not put a smile on your own face.”
Midland Park Mayor Harry Shortway Jr. also paid tribute to the veteran.
“I knew him since he was in high school,” Shortway said. “We’re shocked that he was killed in Afghanistan by a mortar round. He was a very likable kid, believe me. I can’t say anything bad about him.”
He went on to say that it was an honor for him to pay his respects to Yali, who he referred to as a “hero.”We’re a hometown, we’re a family,” said Shortway. “He served his country well.