MoH Monday: SSgt David Bellavia
The prestigious Medal of Honor was awarded to David Bellavia, a retired Staff Sergeant of the United States Army, in 2019. During his deployment in Iraq, Bellavia displayed bravery and leadership beyond expectations. He quickly rose through the ranks, eventually being awarded the Medal of Honor. Today, he continues to serve his country, working as a veteran's advocate and sharing his story to inspire future generations.
Bellavia was born November 10, 1975, in Buffalo, New York. After high school, he attended Franklin Pierce University and the University of Buffalo, studying both biology and theater. His grandfather, who served in World War II and earned the Bronze Star Medal for his actions at Normandy, always inspired Bellavia.
In 1999, Bellavia enlisted in the United States Army and became an infantryman. In 2001, he considered leaving the military when members of his family began to experience medical hardships. However, after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Bellavia decided that he needed to continue his service.
In 2003, the Army deployed him to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom and assigned him to 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division.
Medal of Honor Action
With heightened urgency and bravery, Bellavia served as a fearless squad leader during Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq on November 10, 2004. The mission was critical: to clear out a cluster of buildings suspected to be sheltering deadly insurgent fighters. Despite the team's expectation of receiving fire support from a Bradley, disaster struck when the support vehicle's cannon malfunctioned, leaving the team vulnerable and without backup.
As soon as the team entered one of the buildings, they were met with a barrage of enemy fire. Trapped and outnumbered, the American soldiers were in a life-threatening situation. But Bellavia didn't hesitate to take action. He grabbed an M249 SAW machine gun and fought back, slowing the enemy's assault and giving his team a chance to escape out into the road.
Unwilling to abandon his fellow service members, Bellavia requested fire support. Then he bravely ran back into the heart of the danger zone. Armed with a machine gun and grenades, he charged forward. He sought out the enemy combatants and taking them down with his expert marksmanship. Enemy fighters jumped out from every corner. They fired at him relentlessly, but Bellavia remained undaunted, taking out nearly all of them.
Life after the Army
Through his bravery and quick thinking, Bellavia saved his entire squad from certain danger and took out nearly an entire house of enemy combatants. His actions were nothing short of heroic and forever cemented his place in the annals of military history.
On June 7, 2019, President Donald Trump presented Staff Sergeant David Bellavia with the Medal of Honor during a special ceremony at the White House. Bellavia left the miliary in 2005 and became a journalist, reporting on the events of the War on Terror. He went on to write a memoir, House to House, which chronicled his Medal of Honor action.