Know Your Military

Medal of Honor Recipient Hopes to Inspire Others to Serve

June 26, 2019 | BY David Vergun

Former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia became the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honor during a White House ceremony yesterday.

President Donald J. Trump praised Bellavia for putting the lives of his comrades before his own. 

21:41

After the ceremony, Bellavia lauded his fellow platoon members who all contributed to the fight. "I served with some of the greatest men I've ever met in my entire life," he said.

Bellavia was inducted into the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon today. 

During the Hall of Heroes ceremony, David L. Norquist, performing the duties of the deputy defense secretary; Ryan D. McCarthy, performing the duties of the secretary of the Army; Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville; and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey, recognized Bellavia for his valor in the Second Battle of Fallujah on the night of Nov. 10, 2004.

47:06

In the fierce house-to-house fighting during battle, Bellavia entered a building to engage the enemy and allow members of his platoon to move to safety. Bellavia continued fighting the insurgents inside for 30 minutes, Norquist said.

Norquist said he met Bellavia and his teammates before the induction ceremony. "I can tell you, they are truly a band of brothers. The camaraderie of these men and the humility with which David approaches his heroic actions is inspiring."

There are many combat valor stories, but the Medal of Honor is unique — it is awarded only to the bravest and noblest, Norquist said.

Soldiers pose for a photo.
Bellavia Pose
Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia, left, poses with a fellow soldier in Iraq.
Photo By: Courtesy of David Bellavia
VIRIN: 041005-O-ZZ999-001E
Soldiers pose for a photo.
Four Soldiers
Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia, second from left, poses with fellow soldiers in Iraq.
Photo By: Courtesy of David Bellavia
VIRIN: 041003-O-ZZ999-001E

Bellavia said he is proud to have served in the Army and especially proud of those he served with in the Fallujah battle, mentioning by name members of his unit: 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, some of whom were in attendance and some of whom were killed during the battle.

"Men go into battle because it is our love of nation, our way of life, and our love of those we serve with side by side," he said. "We defend, we avenge, we sacrifice, we bleed and we are willing to die for this unique creation, the United States of America."

A man is recognized at a ceremony.
Honor Ceremony
The Medal of Honor plaque for Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia's induction into the Hall of Heroes is unveiled, June 26, 2019. From left is: David L. Norquist, performing the duties of the deputy defense secretary; Ryan D. McCarthy, performing the duties of the secretary of the Army; Bellavia; Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville; and, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey.
Photo By: Courtesy of David Bellavia
VIRIN: 190626-D-UB488-001

McCarthy noted that when asked what inspired him to join the Army, Bellavia said it was his grandfather, Joe, who landed on Normandy on D-Day as a soldier and subsequently fought in the Battle of the Bulge, adding that his grandfather earned a Bronze Star Medal in the process.

His grandfather used to talk to Bellavia about World War II when he was a child — not about death and killing, but about the incredible camaraderie among the soldiers and their selfless service to their country and to their unit, McCarthy said.

President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia.
Medal Presentation
President Donald J. Trump presents the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia during a ceremony at the White House in Washington, D.C., June 25, 2019.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Kevin M Roy
VIRIN: 190625-A-ZR313-636

McCarthy said Bellavia told him he wants to help the Army recruit future warriors to the most noble calling there is.