b. 10/11/1975 Buffalo, New York.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 10/11/2004 Fallejah, Iraq.
The son of a successful dentist and the youngest of four boys, David Bellavia grew up in western New York and attended Lyndonville Central High School and Houghton Academy. Following his high school graduation in 1994, Bellavia attended Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire, and the University at Buffalo, where he studied biology and theater before turning to the military. Bellavia enlisted in the United States Army in July 1999 and deployed to Iraq after serving in Kosovo.
The actions for which Bellavia earned a Silver Star took place on his 29th birthday. As a member of Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division, his platoon was assigned during Operation Phantom Fury to clear a block of twelve buildings from which insurgents were firing on American forces. The platoon began searching house-to-house. At the tenth house, Bellavia fatally shot an insurgent preparing to load a rocket-propelled grenade. A second insurgent fired at him, and Bellavia wounded him in the shoulder. When Staff Sergeant Bellavia entered a bedroom, the wounded insurgent followed, forcing Bellavia to kill him. When another insurgent began firing from upstairs, Bellavia returned fire and killed him. A fourth insurgent then jumped out of a closet in the bedroom, yelling and firing his weapon as he leaped over a bed trying to reach Bellavia. The insurgent tripped and Bellavia wounded him. Bellavia chased the insurgent when he ran upstairs. He followed the wounded insurgent’s bloody footprints to a room on the left and threw in a fragmentation grenade. Upon entering the room, Bellavia discovered it was filled with propane tanks and plastic explosives. He did not fire his weapon for fear of setting off an explosion and instead then engaged in hand-to-hand combat with the insurgent, which led to Bellavia killing the insurgent by stabbing him in the collarbone.
His actions in Fallujah were first documented in the November 22, 2004 Time magazine cover story, “Into the Hot Zone”, by journalist Michael Ware, who was attached with Bellavia’s unit during the fight.
After serving for six years, Bellavia left the service with the rank of Staff Sergeant in 2005. Bellavia was Vice Chairman and co-founder of Vets for Freedom. He attended the 2006 State of the Union address as an honored guest. He currently is President of EMPact America, an American energy resiliency organization based in Elma, New York.
In 2007, Bellavia published a memoir, House to House: An Epic Memoir of War, co-written with John R. Bruning. In September 2010, the book was chosen as one of the top five best Iraq War memoirs by journalist Thomas Ricks (author of Fiasco). In 2012, Bellavia signed an agreement with 2012 Oscar-winning producer Rich Middlemas to make his memoir into a major motion picture. Since leaving the U.S. Army, Bellavia has twice run for congress in New York’s 26th congressional district.
On June 7, 2019, It was leaked to the media that Bellavia’s Silver Star would be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. He was presented with his Medal of Honor on 25 June 2019 at The White House by President Donald J. Trump. President Trump said “America is blessed with the heroes and great people like Staff Sgt. Bellavia whose intrepid spirit and unwavering resolve defeats our enemies, protects our freedoms, and defends our great American flag.”
The ceremony was also attended by former members of Bellavia’s platoon in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Bellavia currently resides in western New York and has three children.
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, March 3rd, 1863, has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on November 10, 2004, while serving as squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq. While clearing a house, a squad from Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s platoon became trapped within a room by intense enemy fire coming from a fortified position under the stairs leading to the second floor. Recognizing the immediate severity of the situation, and with disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Bellavia retrieved an automatic weapon and entered the doorway of the house to engage the insurgents. With enemy rounds impacting around him, Staff Sergeant Bellavia fired at the enemy position at a cyclic rate, providing covering fire that allowed the squad to break contact and exit the house. A Bradley Fighting Vehicle was brought forward to suppress the enemy; however, due to high walls surrounding the house, it could not fire directly at the enemy position. Staff Sergeant Bellavia then re-entered the house and again came under intense enemy fire. He observed an enemy insurgent preparing to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at his platoon. Recognizing the grave danger the grenade posed to his fellow soldiers, Staff Sergeant Bellavia assaulted the enemy position, killing one insurgent and wounding another who ran to a different part of the house. Staff Sergeant Bellavia, realizing he had an un-cleared, darkened room to his back, moved to clear it. As he entered, an insurgent came down the stairs firing at him. Simultaneously, the previously wounded insurgent reemerged and engaged Staff Sergeant Bellavia. Staff Sergeant Bellavia, entering further into the darkened room, returned fire and eliminated both insurgents. Staff Sergeant Bellavia then received enemy fire from another insurgent emerging from a closet in the darkened room. Exchanging gunfire, Staff Sergeant Bellavia pursued the enemy up the stairs and eliminated him. Now on the second floor, Staff Sergeant Bellavia moved to a door that opened onto the roof. At this point, a fifth insurgent leapt from the third floor roof onto the second floor roof. Staff Sergeant Bellavia engaged the insurgent through a window, wounding him in the back and legs, and caused him to fall off the roof. Acting on instinct to save the members of his platoon from an imminent threat, Staff Sergeant Bellavia ultimately cleared an entire enemy-filled house, destroyed four insurgents, and badly wounded a fifth. Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s bravery, complete disregard for his own safety, and unselfish and courageous actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: WITH RECIPIENT.