Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The knife that saved the Iraq War's first living Medal of Honor recipient
President Donald Trump presented former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia with the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the nation's highest valor award.
Bellavia was awarded the Medal of Honor in recognition of his heroic actions of Nov. 10, 2004, when he killed five enemy fighters during a chaotic battle inside an enemy-held house during the second battle of Fallujah, rescuing an entire squad in the process.
But according to Bellavia, he likely wouldn't have made it out alive had it not been for his knife.
During a Monday roundtable, Bellavia described engaging enemy fighters inside the dark house full of propane tanks and plastic explosives, first with his M4 carbine and then with an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon.
But after killing four insurgents, Bellavia was confronted by a wounded fighter who engaged him in hand-to-hand combat, forcing the soldier to pull out his Gerber Rex Applegate folding knife and kill him.
The Gerber Applegate combat folding knife with a serrated edge(Gerber photo)
Here's how Bellavia described the encounter in a 2006 oral history of second battle of Fallujah:
I was covering his mouth, telling him to shut up. His breath was horrible, just stale, nasty breath. The moral of the story is that the dude bites my left hand near the thumb knuckle through my glove. I open up my SAPI plate and hit him with the inside of my vest. He's screaming, there are people screaming downstairs and I have no composure at all. This is not a John Rambo moment. I'm really scared. I stand up and he digs into my leg with his fingers. I'm looking for my Rex Applegate Gerber knife: not a multi-tool, just a serious blade. I go to reach for it and he puts his teeth — I don't wear underwear and he bites me right in the genital region.
I don't know if he thought I was going to give him mercy, but in the struggle my Velcro knife case slid off my belt and was now on the ground next to his head. I hear someone yell down from above me in a panic. The man underneath me yells back. The more I put pressure on his left arm the more he goes limp. I flick my blade to the side and it snaps to the ready. I had never stabbed anyone before so I went down on him with a stabbing motion. I lost the grip on the knife and it went right across the base of my right pinkie finger. As soon as I let it go, a hot wave hit me and it smelled like rust. I put one hand on his mouth and other under his chin and just started to push like I was giving him CPR. The stream only got powerful when I pushed down and it opened up. I fell over and was completely exhausted.
Members of Bellavia's platoon came to his aid immediately afterwards, and not a moment too soon: as he put it on Monday, the struggle pushed him to his "breaking point."
"Honestly, if I had an MRE spoon, I would have used it — it was just there," Bellavia recalled. "My breaking point was the last guy. If my guys didn't come in at that moment, I did not have enough reserve ... I was just done."
A former Marine arrested as he tried to enter the U.S. Coast Guard Training Center in Cape May with a modified AK-47 rifle, handgun, body armor and ammunition faces federal weapons charges, officials said Friday.
There are 'thousands' of decisions to make about the new Space Force, but the military's 2nd-highest-ranking officer already knows the 'perfect partner'
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Business Insider.
The US military's newest service, the Space Force, is only about a month old, having been signed into law by President Donald Trump on December 20.
Military veterans from throughout Northeast Florida came together Saturday morning to honor comrades in arms who were prisoners of war or missing in action, and remember their sacrifice.
After the plane landed, Pope Army Airfield was silent on Saturday.
A chaplain prayed and a family member sobbed.
Tarah McLaughlin's fingers traced her husband's flag-draped coffin before she pressed two fingers to her lips then pressed her fingers to the coffin.
The remains of Staff Sgt. Ian McLaughlin, 29, of Newport News, Virginia, arrived back to Fort Bragg a week after he was killed Jan. 11 by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.
Pfc. Miguel Angel Villalon, 21, of Joliet, Illinois, also was killed in the same incident.
The U.S. Space Force has a name tape for uniforms now. Get excited people.
In a tweet from its official account, the Space Force said its uniform name tapes have "touched down in the Pentagon," sharing a photo of it on the chest of Gen. John W. Raymond, the newly-minted Chief of Space Operations for the new service branch nested in the Department of the Air Force.