In a ceremony at the White House on Tuesday, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia became the first living individual to be awarded a Medal of Honor for the Iraq War.
When you look at his actions, he’s certainly deserving.
President Trump described what happened as he awarded Bellavia the nation’s highest honor on Tuesday.
“In November of 2004, after nearly a year of intense enemy combat in Iraq, David led his squad into battle to liberate the city of Fallujah and anti-Iraqi forces,” Trump said.
“That was a tough place. This operation was the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War.”
Happening Now: @POTUS will present Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, @FightingFirst, with the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions taken, November 2004, during #OIF, during a ceremony at the @WhiteHouse.#ServeWithHonor #MOH https://t.co/StpfIU8IH9
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) June 25, 2019
“For three days straight, David and his men kicked down doors, searched houses, and destroyed enemy weapons, never knowing where they would find a terrorist lurking next. And there were plenty of them.
“The third day of battle was November 10th, David’s 29th birthday. That night, his squad was tasked with clearing 12 houses occupied by insurgents. A very dangerous operation. They entered house after house, and secured nine of the buildings.”
The 10th house, however, was where the problem was. That’s where, according to a White House statement, “his platoon became pinned down.”
Bellavia “quickly exchanged an M16 rifle for an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon, entered the house where his squad was trapped, and 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 Sgt. Bellavia re-entered the house, armed with an M16, and assaulted insurgents who were firing rocket-propelled grenades.”
“Knowing that he would face almost certain death, David decided to go back inside the house and make sure that not a single terrorist escaped alive, or escaped in any way,” the president said Tuesday.
“He quickly encountered an insurgent who was about to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at his squad. David once again jumped into danger and killed him before he had a chance to launch that grenade.
“Next, two more insurgents came out of hiding and fired at David. He returned fire, killing them both. Then, a third assailant burst out of a wardrobe … and opened fire. David shot and wounded the man, but he escaped up the stairs. Racing after him, David engaged in hand-to-hand combat and killed him too.”
As the president put it succinctly: “He just took over. David took over.”
“Bleeding and badly wounded, David single-handedly defeated the forces who attacked his unit and would have killed them all had it not been for the bravery of David,” Trump said.
It’s the kind of patriotism that’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.
Bellavia was joined at the ceremony by 12 of the men from his platoon and family members from five who didn’t survive.
That number alone should be a reminder that the Iraq War was a grueling slog through a brutal counter-insurgency. Men and women like Bellavia fought bravely for their country. Some of them didn’t make it back. Others came back with permanent scars, both physical and psychological.
Yes, this is one of the most conspicuous acts of bravery during that conflict. It was hardly the only one. When we celebrate heroes like Bellavia, let’s not forget the others.
God bless them, and God bless the United States of America.
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