A former 1st Infantry Division staff sergeant will become the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honor.
President Donald Trump announced Monday that David Bellavia, 43, will be awarded the Medal of Honor on June 25 at the White House for his bravery during the Second Battle of Fallujah.
Bellavia exposed himself to enemy fire as he defended his soldiers on Nov. 10, 2004, his 29th birthday. He was the squad leader with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.
In a statement describing Bellavia’s actions that day, The White House said he “rescued an entire squad, cleared an insurgent strongpoint and saved many members of his platoon from imminent threat.”
Bellavia was clearing a block of houses when his platoon became pinned down. He entered the house where his squad was trapped and provided 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. Bellavia re-entered the house, armed with an M16 assault rifle, and shot at insurgents who were firing rocket-propelled grenades. He killed one insurgent and wounded another, who ran to another part of the house. Bellavia was soon engaged by another insurgent rushing down the stairs when the previously wounded insurgent re-emerged.
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.
Bellavia, a native of Waterport, New York, received the Silver Star for his actions, which will now be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. All five of the previous Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal of Honor recipients received the honor posthumously.
Bellavia enlisted in 1999 and left active duty in 2005 after serving in Kosovo and Iraq. In 2007, he published his memoir, “House to House: An Epic Memoir of War.”
He currently hosts his own radio show in the Buffalo, New York, area. He is also the co-founder of Vets for Freedom, a conservative political advocacy organization.