The White House announced on Monday that President Trump will award former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia the first living Medal of Honor recipient for the war in Iraq for his heroism during the second battle of Fallujah in November 2004.
The five previous Medals of Honor in the Iraq War were handed out posthumously and Bellavia’s award is an upgrade from the Silver Star he had previously received.
Bellavia is receiving the medal for his actions on November 10, 2004, which happened to be his birthday, when he served as a squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq. Bellavia was clearing a block of houses when his platoon was pinned down.
Bellavia is credited with single handedly wiping out an insurgent stronghold and saving his entire platoon.
Read the details of Bellavia’s battle that saved his platoon at Army Times.
Statement and public release from the White House:
On Tuesday, June 25, 2019, President Donald J. Trump will award the Medal of Honor to David G. Bellavia for conspicuous gallantry while serving as a Staff Sergeant in the United States Army.
Then-Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 10, 2004, while serving as a squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq. Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia was clearing a block of houses when his platoon became pinned down. He quickly engaged insurgents, providing cover fire so that he and his fellow soldiers could exit safely.
A Bradley Fighting Vehicle arrived to help suppress the enemy, but it could not fire directly into the house. Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia re-entered the house and assaulted insurgents who were firing rocket-propelled grenades.
He proceeded to kill one insurgent and wound another, who then ran to another part of the house. Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia was soon engaged by another insurgent rushing down the stairs when the previously wounded insurgent reemerged to engage him as well. Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia returned fire, killing both attackers. He then took enemy fire from an insurgent who had appeared from a closet across the room. He pursued him up the stairs and killed him. Soon thereafter, he moved to the roof where he engaged and wounded a fifth insurgent, who fell from the roof of the building.
That remarkable day, then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia rescued an entire squad, cleared an insurgent strong-point, and saved many members of his platoon from imminent threat.
David Bellavia enlisted in the United States Army in 1999. After previously serving in Kosovo, he deployed to Iraq in 2004 with Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division. He was released from duty on August 16, 2005. David now has his own daily radio talk show for WBEN in Buffalo, New York. He continues to serve the military and veteran communities through a number of philanthropic organizations.
The Medal of Honor:
The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty while:
- engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
- engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
- serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.
From U.S. Army Military Medal of Honor dedication page to former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia:
Bellavia left the Army in August 2005 and cofounded Vets for Freedom, a veteran advocacy organization that sought to separate politics from the warriors who fight in the field. Their membership consisted of tens of thousands of veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bellavia returned to Iraq as an embedded reporter in 2006 and 2008 where he covered the heavy fighting in Ramadi, Fallujah and Diyala Province. In 2007, he wrote a book, House to House, detailing his experiences in Fallujah. He also had several articles appear in national publications and made appearances as a guest on cable news networks. Bellavia currently is a successful business owner and a loyal Buffalo area sports fan.
Bellavia’s awards and decorations include the Medal of Honor, Silver Star, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Good Conduct Medal with Bronze Clasp and two Loops, the National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal with Bronze Service Star, New York State’s Conspicuous Service Cross, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with Numeral “2,” the Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon with Numeral “2,” the Presidential Unit Citation, Combat Infantryman Badge, Driver and Mechanics Badge and the NATO Medal. He was inducted into the New York State Veterans Hall of Fame in 2005.
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Video: YouTube, CBS