Fallen Marine Honored With Intelligence Medal for Valor

MCLEAN, Va., June 29, 2011 — The par­ents of a Marine Corps sergeant killed in Afghanistan accept­ed a posthu­mous Nation­al Intel­li­gence Medal for Val­or on their son’s behalf at the Nation­al Intel­li­gence Direc­torate head­quar­ters here today.

Sgt. Lucas T. Pyeatt, 24, a sig­nals intel­li­gence team leader from West Chester, Ohio, died Feb. 5 dur­ing com­bat oper­a­tions in Hel­mand province. He was assigned to the 2nd Radio Bat­tal­ion, II Marine Expe­di­tionary Force Head­quar­ters Group, Camp Leje­une, N.C.

Nation­al Intel­li­gence Direc­tor James R. Clap­per pre­sent­ed the award to Lon “Scott” Pyeatt and Cyn­thia Pyeatt dur­ing the small cer­e­mo­ny this morn­ing.

“We’re here today to pay trib­ute to an out­stand­ing Marine and an extra­or­di­nary intel­li­gence pro­fes­sion­al,” Clap­per said. “The Marine Corps has already rec­og­nized Luke, so this is … a small token of appre­ci­a­tion and respect and esteem from the intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty.”

Clap­per said Pyeatt was a “stand­out young man,” a Civ­il War buff and an accom­plished bass play­er, who was sen­si­tive enough to learn Amer­i­can Sign Lan­guage so he could com­mu­ni­cate with, and inter­pret for, a deaf friend.

“He was an Eagle Scout … [and] a young man who lived his faith, includ­ing serv­ing on a mis­sion in Rus­sia,” Clap­per added.

After Pyeatt enlist­ed in the Marine Corps, he quick­ly excelled as a sig­nals intel­li­gence col­lec­tor, Clap­per said.

“In four short years, Luke proved him­self time and again,” he added.

Dur­ing boot camp, lan­guage train­ing, and after assign­ment to Camp Lejuene, the young Marine con­sis­tent­ly excelled at his assigned tasks, the direc­tor said.

As a cor­po­ral, Pyeatt was select­ed to be a team leader, and deployed to Afghanistan, Clap­per not­ed.

“He con­tin­ued to set the exam­ple,” the direc­tor said. “Because of his job, he knew he could­n’t be on every patrol [but] insist­ed on con­duct­ing the very first one, in a heav­i­ly con­test­ed area.”

The young leader want­ed to be cer­tain he knew what his team would be going through when they went “out­side the wire,” Clap­per said, but the young Marine died dur­ing that first patrol.

Dur­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with Pyeatt’s par­ents before the cer­e­mo­ny, Clap­per said, Cyn­thia Pyeatt hand­ed him a memo­r­i­al card for her son that includ­ed a quote from Eng­lish econ­o­mist and philoso­pher John Stu­art Mill.

Dur­ing his remarks, Clap­per shared the quote on the card: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugli­est of things. The decayed and degrad­ed state of moral and patri­ot­ic feel­ing which thinks that noth­ing is worth war is much worse. The per­son who has noth­ing for which he is will­ing to fight, noth­ing which is more impor­tant than his own per­son­al safe­ty, is a mis­er­able crea­ture and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exer­tions of bet­ter men than him­self.”

Clap­per then pre­sent­ed a framed cita­tion and the medal to Pyeatt’s par­ents.

The young Marine’s Nation­al Intel­li­gence Medal for Val­or is the 10th award­ed and the fourth pre­sent­ed posthu­mous­ly, a spokesman for the Office of the Direc­tor of Nation­al Intel­li­gence said.

The medal was estab­lished Oct. 1, 2008, to acknowl­edge the “extra­or­di­nary and most­ly unsung accom­plish­ments of intel­li­gence com­mu­ni­ty pro­fes­sion­als,” he said.

The award is sec­ond only to the Intel­li­gence Cross in the intel­li­gence community’s medals for brav­ery, the spokesman said.

Cyn­thia Pyeatt said she and her fam­i­ly don’t know the details of what her son did in Afghanistan to earn such a pres­ti­gious medal.

“We’re not sup­posed to know, so he did that right,” she said. “I just wish he could be here.”

Her son was a patri­ot, she said, who loved his coun­try.

“He believed in the Con­sti­tu­tion, and he believed in peo­ple hav­ing an oblig­a­tion,” she said.

Pyeatt’s father retired from the Air Force as a chief mas­ter sergeant after a 30-year career. Cyn­thia Pyeatt said when her son spoke of enlist­ing, she asked him why his father’s ser­vice was­n’t enough of a con­tri­bu­tion for the fam­i­ly.

“He said, ‘That was dad, and this is my time,’ ” she recount­ed.

Not every­one can be in the mil­i­tary or be a Marine, Cyn­thia Pyeatt said, but “you can bet­ter your com­mu­ni­ty, you can bet­ter the world you live in.”

“If more peo­ple would look at our coun­try and say, ‘I can step up and do some­thing … to make this bet­ter,’ ” she added, that would be a trib­ute not only to her son but also to all the oth­er ser­vice mem­bers who have been hurt or killed serv­ing the nation.

“We’re one fam­i­ly, and there are thou­sands of fam­i­lies like us that have huge holes in their lives,” she said. “I won­der some­times if it’s worth it, but he believed in what he was doing, and I owe him the respect of respect­ing his deci­sion.”

Pyeatt’s sis­ter, Emi­ly Smal­l­ey, and her two chil­dren also attend­ed the event, as did mem­bers of the 2nd Radio Bat­tal­ion; Marine Brig. Gen. Vin­cent R. Stew­art, Marine Corps direc­tor of intel­li­gence; and for­mer sec­re­tary of the Army and of Vet­er­ans Affairs, retired Army Lt. Gen. Togo D. West Jr.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)