Col. James Ross Yastrzemsky (“Yaz”) is a native of Baltimore. He graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1997 as a National Collegiate Athletic Association Lacrosse Academic/Athletic All-American (team captain) with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering.

Yastrzemsky has served in numerous command and leadership positions beginning with 1st Battalion, 3rd Attack Helicopter Aviation Regiment, at Hunter Army Airfield, Georgia. He initially deployed to Fort Hood, Texas to conduct the Apache Longbow Unit Fielding and Training Program (UFTP). He also deployed with Task Force Viper to Kuwait in support of Operation Desert Spring shortly after the attacks of 9/11. In 2003, Yastrzemsky deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) serving as the aviation liaison officer for the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division, the lead division during the invasion and liberation of Iraq.

While assigned at Fort Hood, Yastrzemsky commanded Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 6th Cavalry Regiment, leading his company through a second UFTP and deployment to Iraq in support of OIF 05-07 at the height of the insurgency. Following deployment, Yastrzemsky returned to West Point to serve as the Aviation Branch proponent and trainer in the Department of Military Instruction. In 2010, he returned to Fort Hood as the operations officer of 1st Battalion, 4th Armed Reconnaissance Regiment. As part of the presidential surge forces back into Afghanistan, he deployed with Task Force Dragon to Kandahar in support of Operation Enduring Freedom X-XI. While attached to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade as the Task Force operations / executive officer, his unit provided direct support to Special Operations Forces operating throughout southern Afghanistan with distinction.

Following advanced civil schooling, Yastrzemsky commanded 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, leading his battalion through a period of Focused Readiness, hurricane relief support efforts in Florida and Puerto Rico, and in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan. After battalion command, he served as the deputy director of the West Point Leadership Center and as assistant professor of Military Leadership within the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership.

Yastrzemsky is a graduate of the Initial Entry Rotary Wing Course and Aviation Officer Basic Course (distinguished honor graduate); Aviation Captain’s Career Course (honor graduate); Combined Arms Services and Staff School; the Joint Firepower Controller Course; the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College; and the U.S. Army War College. He is rated in the AH-64A/D/E (Apache Longbow), OH-58A/C (Kiowa), UH-60M (Blackhawk), and LUH-72A (Lakota) aircraft.

Yastrzemsky holds a PhD in Social Psychology/Military Sociology (University of Maryland), a Masters of Arts degree in Public Administration (John Jay College of Criminal Justice), and a Masters degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.

His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star (3), the Air Medal (2), the Meritorious Service Medal (3), the Army Commendation Medal (4), the Army Achievement Medal (3), the Army Presidential Unit Citation, the Army Valorous Unit Award, the Army Superior Unit Award, the Combat Action Badge, Master Aviator Badge, Parachutist Badge, and Air Assault Badge.