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June 13, 2019

Profiles of Valor: SSG David Bellavia (USA)

He became the first living Medal of Honor recipient for actions during the war in Iraq.

Former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq. Each of the five previous Medals awarded for actions in Iraq were given posthumously. After a Pentagon review of all awards given for Iraq and Afghanistan, Bellavia’s Silver Star was upgraded, and he received the Medal of Honor on June 25th at a White House ceremony.

Bellavia is credited with saving his squad from a house full of jihadis in the Second Battle of Fallujah in 2004. They were ordered to clear a block of 12 buildings one night, but became pinned down by enemy fighters. According to the White House statement announcing the award, “He 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.”

Then, “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.” Bellavia killed both fighters. “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.”

As is often typical of such heroes, he credits his fellow soldiers. Now a radio talk-show host in Buffalo, Bellavia said this week, “One guy gets attention, but none of that’s possible without the work of, you know, 25 guys that nobody talks about. And in this fight, in this circumstance, it was just a group of guys that were out-gunned, and we fought our way through it together.”

He concluded, “This award is our award, and … we all consider it something that we did together.”

His citation is here.

“Greater love has no one than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:13)

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