A former Army staff sergeant who took on enemy fighters at close range, first with an M249 light machine gun and then with a knife, will be the first living veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom to receive the Medal of Honor, Military.com has learned.
Is there less courage on the battlefield today than during previous wars? If you only looked at the number of awards for valor presented to service members, you might get that impression. There’s been a noticeable decrease in valor citations issued during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, compared with previous conflicts. There are plenty of reasons for this, but a lack of bravery isn’t one of them.
On Nov. 10, 2004, during the Second Battle of Fallujah, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia's platoon was ordered to clear a block where insurgents were firing on American forces.
He was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, and the group's mission was to secure 12 houses. The first nine were empty, aside from rocket-propelled grenades and stockpiled arms.
However, upon entering the tenth house, a firefight broke out inside, trapping Bellavia and four other soldiers.
“We walk into this, and machine guns just go off. Strobe lights, pieces of glass, bullets were just coming through the wall, and someone yelled out, 'We're all gonna die,'" Bellavia told AOL News.