CNN

Soldier to become Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient

Jun 10, 2019, 2:44 PM
medal of honor iraq war vet army recruiting...
FILE: President Donald Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, making him the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the nation's highest military decoration. Photo: US Army

(CNN) — President Donald Trump will award the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia later this month, the White House announced Monday, making him the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the nation’s highest military decoration.

Bellavia, 43, was previously awarded the Silver Star but will have that distinction upgraded to a Medal of Honor — the nation’s highest award for combat valor — during a White House ceremony on June 25. To date, the Medal of Honor had only been awarded posthumously to service members who served during the Iraq War.

“Bellavia will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 10, 2004, while serving as a squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq,” the White House said in a statement.

It was Bellavia’s 29th birthday.

Specifically, Bellavia, who at the time was with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment,1st Infantry Division, was clearing a block of houses when his platoon became pinned down by enemy fire.

“He entered the house where his squad was trapped, and engaged insurgents, providing cover fire so that he and his fellow soldiers could exit safely,” according to his citation. “Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia re-entered the house, armed with an M16, and assaulted insurgents who were firing rocket-propelled grenades.”

“That remarkable day, then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia rescued an entire squad, cleared an insurgent strongpoint, and saved many members of his platoon from imminent threat,” it said.

“Staff Sergeant David Bellavia exhibited remarkable courage in Fallujah on November 10, 2004, when he exposed himself to enemy fire and entered and cleared a house full of insurgents to save members of his platoon. His actions serve as an inspiration to all Americans,” acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan tweeted Monday.

“This month, he will deservedly become the first living Medal of Honor recipient of the Iraq War. He serves as a symbol of the bravery and selflessness of his generation of war veterans,” he said.

Trump’s plan to award Bellavia the Medal of Honor was first reported by The American Legion’s Burn Pit blog.

Bellavia, who was released from duty in 2005 and is now a radio talk show host for WBEN in Buffalo, New York, described what will be going through his mind in the coming days.

“I’m going to just think about the guys we’ve lost the most … Their families are going to be there to represent their sons and you know, we’re hoping that the President recognizes just everyone that did so much,” he said.

“Iraq veterans have not had a living recipient and this is the first one … the narrative has been written on the Iraq War, but there are a lot of men and women who did outstanding work and did it because it needed to be done and we didn’t vote to go to the war, but we fought and we’re very proud of our fight,” Bellavia added.

“We’re very proud of our unit and our military and our army and our infantry and it’s just … it’s humbling,” he said.

In 2016, the Pentagon announced the results of its review of military awards given to veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The military examined over 1,000 medals given since the attacks of September 11, 2001, to determine whether the actions that led to those awards were actually deserving of the Medal of Honor.

The review was initiated by then-Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in 2014 to improve the military awards system to make sure the Pentagon was appropriately recognizing service members for their actions.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

CNN

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 03: Grammy trophies sit in the press room during the 64th Annual GRAMMY A...
Marianne Garvey, CNN

How to watch the 2023 Grammy Awards: Time, channels and more

The biggest night in music is here with the 65th Grammy Awards on Sunday. If you want to see Harry Styles, Lizzo and more perform, here's how to tune in.
23 hours ago
This photo purports to show the suspected Chinese balloon flying over Mills River, North Carolina, ...
Heather Chen and Wayne Chang, CNN

China says it ‘reserves the right’ to deal with ‘similar situations’ after US shoot down suspected spy balloon

China says it "reserves the right" to deal with "similar situations" following the United States' decision to shoot down its high-altitude balloon.
23 hours ago
In the golden age of space exploration we live in, cosmic revelations seem to occur more frequently...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

Cosmic seaplanes and self-growing bricks could help us explore other worlds

In the golden age of space exploration we live in, cosmic revelations seem to occur more frequently than ever before.
2 days ago
The Chinese national flag is seen at the entrance to the Zhongnanhai leadership compound in Beijing...
By Zachary Cohen, CNN

A look at China’s history of spying in the US

The suspected Chinese surveillance balloon that violated American airspace this week has fueled a diplomatic crisis with the postponement of Secretary of State Antony Blinken's planned trip to Beijing.
2 days ago
A balloon flies in the sky over Billings, Montana, U.S. February 1, 2023, in this picture obtained ...
Zachary Cohen, CNN

US military has shot down the Chinese spy balloon off US East Coast, US official says

The US military has shot down the suspected Chinese surveillance balloon over the Atlantic Ocean off the Eastern Seaboard, a US official said Saturday.
2 days ago
The Goonies House...
Taylor Romine and Ralph Ellis, CNN

Man wanted for leaving a dead fish at ‘The Goonies’ house saved by Coast Guard in daring rescue

A man wanted by police in an incident at a house featured in "The Goonies" was the subject of a Coast Guard rescue when he was tossed from a stolen boat as it capsized, authorities said.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Soldier to become Iraq War’s first living Medal of Honor recipient