WASHINGTON — An Army veteran of the second battle of Fallujah will receive the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration — becoming the first living recipient of the honor from the Iraq War.
The White House announced that then-Staff Sgt. David Bellavia will have his Silver Star commendation elevated to the Medal of Honor. The Monday statement from the White House said Bellavia’s actions removed his squad from harm and possible death and eliminated an insurgent nest.
The announcement came on “Medal of Honor” Monday, which is celebrated by the Pentagon each week with profiles of Medal of Honor winners.
The Medal of Honor has been awarded to 3,461 persons. Nineteen individuals have been awarded the Medal of Honor twice.
Bellavia, 43, will be one of now seven Operation Iraqi Freedom Medals of Honor; the others were posthumous awards.
He enlisted in the Army in 1999 and served in Kosovo before deploying to Iraq in 2004. He left the service in August 2005 and how has a daily radio talk show in Buffalo.
During the action cited on Nov. 10, 2004, Bellavia single-handedly killed multiple insurgents, including one during hand-to-hand combat, after the platoon he was leading was pinned down clearing a block of buildings.
According to his Silver Star citation, Bellavia’s squad cleared the first nine building easily, but were wary as the rooms were filled with rockets, grenade launchers and other weapons — but no insurgents.
When they enrtered the 10th building, they came under fire. Bellavia held off the insurgent attack, killed several including one whose throat he slit in close combat, and permitted the squad to evacuate safely just as air support arrived, according to the citation.