Yurii Kovalenko was born in the town of Bershad in Vinnytsia oblast in the family of diver officer. After his graduation from Odessa Army Institute, the Junior Lieutenant was sent to Dnipropetrovsk oblast to the ranks of one of the regiments of the 93rd motorized rifle division. Soon, the military fate led Yurii to Kirovohrad oblast, where he passed a way from the commander of a group to the deputy commander of the Special Forces detachment.
He has become a real professional for many years of service in the ranks of the 3rd separate Special Forces regiment. He has always demanded from his subordinate personnel to impeccably know all the types of arms and military equipment, learn tactics, mining, hand-to-hand combat, as well as he taught his subordinates to survive in extreme conditions and shared the secrets of the art of war, which is essential to the Special Forces officers on war.
From the first weeks of ATO, Yurii Kovalenko, along with his detachment, carried out combat tasks on reconnaissance of enemy’s objects. He took part in many raids and other operations.
After the first engagement with terrorists in the ATO area, his warriors came to him and said: “Thank you, commander, that you made us work our fingers to the bone. We couldn't even imagine that you trained us for a real war…"
Once, the Kovalenko’s units moved forward to meet with a reconnaissance group, which engaged in a battle with terrorists after their airborne insert. The insurgents tried to make an ambush for the Ukrainian column. But the scouts ruined the enemy’s plans. In that battle, Yurii saved a wounded soldier, he got him out of the range.
The command entrusted Kovalenko, who showed his leadership talents in combat conditions, to take the charge of a joint reconnaissance detachment which consisted of Special Forces officers and warriors of a separate mechanized brigade. Under his command, the reconnaissance detachment fought their way to reach the defined objective and made a lodgment there, despite the fierce opposition of the terrorists. Such a maneuver provided a pass of the Armed Forces of Ukraine units and border guards to protect the state border of Ukraine. The officer was awarded with a rank of Lieutenant-Colonel for that case.
He personally planned and carried out a penetration of the reconnaissance detachment through the combat formations of the terrorists to the area of the town of Izvaryne, they blocked the major approach routes of the adversary’s forces, arms and combat equipment to the territory of Ukraine.
In one of the violent battles, on July 15, 2014, the reconnaissance unit got under a severe mortar fire of the terrorists, during which Lieutenant-Colonel Yurii Kovalenko died from heavy wounds.
According to the Presidential Decree, the deputy commander of the Special Forces detachment Lieutenant-Colonel Yurii Kovalenko was posthumously awarded a title of the Hero of Ukraine for outstanding courage, heroism and self-sacrifice, showed in the protection of the state sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian State, and for loyalty to the Oath of Allegiance.