David Bellavia this week was announced as the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honor, given to him for his bravery while he was a squad leader for the 1st Infantry Division.
Mr. Bellavia reportedly exposed himself to enemy fire as he defended his soldiers during the Second Battle of Fallujah. He was a staff sergeant with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division.
The actions of Mr. Bellavia that day in 2004 read like the script for an action movie: He 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.
He then re-entered the house with his M16 and shot at insurgents who were firing rocket-propelled grenades. As he moved through the house to the roof, he single-handedly took on five insurgents, killing or wounding each one.
That wasn’t some scene from one of the Call of Duty video games. It was a real, life-or-death situation.
It was Mr. Bellavia’s 29th birthday.
In a statement describing Mr. Bellavia’s actions, The White House said he “saved an entire squad, risking his own life to allow his fellow soldiers to break contact and reorganize when trapped by overwhelming insurgent fire.”
The Congressional Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest military decoration, and Mr. Bellavia deserves it. He represents the kind of valor the Army hopes to see in every soldier.
Now a 43-year-old radio show host, Bellavia said his life is forever changed. He’ll receive the award from President Donald Trump on June 25, and the expectation of recipients is that they return to some kind of military service. He knows the opinions he once shared on his show will be viewed differently because of the medal.
“It separates you, but at the same time, it automatically demands that you are not an individual,” he told reporters. “I’m prepared for that.”
We’re proud that Mr. Bellavia served with the Big Red One, based just down the road at Fort Riley. When duty called, he went above and beyond, showing heroism in the face of danger and putting the members of his squad before himself.