Iurii Aronov was born in 1919 in the town of Kzyl-Orda in Kazakhastan into a family of Bukharan Jews that followed Jewish religious tradition. Yurii studied in a Kazakh language school in Kazalinsk, then moved to a Russian 10-year school, from which he graduated in 1939. He entered the medical institute in Tashkent but was drafted into the Red Army in 1939. He then studied in the infantry school in Dagestan and, in May 1941, was sent to Belgorod, Russia with the rank of lieutenant. In October 1941 he was wounded near Belgorod by the fragments of a bomb. In 1942, after being released from hospital, he was sent to a parachutist course, where he was trained for missions behind enemy lines. However, he was soon sent to Stalingrad, where he fought as commander of a submachine-gun company and, then, as commander of an anti-tank company. In December 1943 he was again wounded, this time in combat against enemy tanks. In January 1944 he was awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 2nd class. He participated in battles in Ukraine, Belorussia, Poland, and Germany.
In April 1944 he joined the Communist Party and in January 1945 he became a captain and the commander of a battalion. In an interview in 2010 Aronov attributed his slow military advancement during the war to the antisemitism of the commander of his regiment.
In February 1945, for his role in the fighting in Poland, he was awarded the Order of the Red Banner.
In his interview given to The Blavatnik Archive Foundation in 2010 (Number in archive NY055) Aronov stated that although he knew during the war that the Germans were killing commissars and Jews, he realized the specifically genocidal nature of the Nazis' anti-Jewish policy only after the war.
He was demobilized after the war and in 1947 he returned to studying medicine. He graduated in 1952 and was assigned, to service with the navy, with which he served in various locations – Kamchatka, Baku, and Aralsk. He was finally demobilized in 1969 on medical grounds. Aronov moved to the United States in 1992. In New York he was the chairman of the association of Bukharan-Jewish war veterans.