Retired Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia is credited with stepping into a barrage of fire in Fallujah in 2004 to suppress the enemy with an M249 squad automatic weapon, an act that credited him with saving the lives of his entire squad.
At the White House ceremony yesterday, President Trump said:
“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. That was a tough place. This operation was the bloodiest battle of the Iraq War.
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.
Then came the 10th. That was a tough one. It was a three-story building surrounded by a nine-foot wall. As they entered the house and moved into the living room, two men were behind concrete barricades. They opened fire on David and everybody.
In the dark of night, shards of glass, brick, and plaster flew into the air, wounding multiple soldiers. The rounds of fire ripped holes into the wall separating the Americans from the terrorists. The wall was ripped to shreds. David knew they had to get out. David thought that they had had it. He leapt into the torrent of bullets, and fired back at the enemy without even thinking. The insurgents — he just took cover. David took over.
He provided suppressive fire while his men evacuated, rescuing his entire squad at the risk of his own life. Only when his men were all out did David exit the building. But the fighting was far from over. Militants on the roof fired down at them with round after deadly round. A Bradley Fighting Vehicle came to the scene to suppress the enemy and drove them further into the building.
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. 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 — wearing 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.
Bleeding and badly wounded, David had single-handedly defeated the forces who had attacked. Just then, yet another combatant jumped down from the third-story roof and attacked. David shot him, and the assailant fell off the balcony.
Alone, in the dark, David killed four insurgents and seriously wounded the fifth, saving his soldiers and facing down the enemies of civilization.”