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.
On Nov, 10, 2004, Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia knew that he stood a good chance of dying as he tried to save his squad.
Bellavia survived the intense enemy fire and went on to single-handedly kill five insurgents as he cleared a three-story house in Fallujah during the iconic battle for the city. For his bravery that day, President Trump will present Bellavia with the Medal of Honor on Tuesday, making him the first living Iraq war veteran to receive the award.
In an interview with Task & Purpose, Bellavia recalled that the house where he fought insurgents was dark and filled with putrid water that flowed from broken pipes. The battle itself was an assault on his senses: The stench from the water, the darkness inside the home, and the sounds of footsteps that seemed to envelope him.
As a Medal of Honor recipient, former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia will also be eligible for retroactive monthly pension payments stretching back to 2004.
All Medal of Honor recipients receive a pension starting on the date they formally receive the Medal of Honor, which is currently $1,329.58 per month, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
But Medal of Honor recipients are also eligible for a retroactive payment for monthly stipends that technically took effect on the "date of heroism," said Gina Jackson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Veterans Affairs.
The White House has announced that former Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia will become the first living Iraq war veteran to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
President Donald Trump will present Bellavia, 43, with the nation's highest military award for valor on June 25 at a White House ceremony.
Army Times reporter Meghann Myers was the first journalist to confirm that Bellavia's Silver Star will be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. During the second battle for Fallujah in 2004, Bellavia single-handedly rescued an entire squad, wiped out an insurgent stronghold and saved several members of his platoon, a White House news release said.
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.
Editor's note: this story originally appeared in 2017.
How you die matters. Ten years ago, on Memorial Day, I was in Fallujah, serving a year-long tour on the staff and conducting vehicle patrols between Abu Ghraib and Ramadi. That day I attended a memorial service in the field. It was just one of many held that year in Iraq, and one of the countless I witnessed over my 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps.
Like many military veterans, Memorial Day is not abstract to me. It is personal; a moment when we remember our friends. A day, as Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “sacred to memories of love and grief and heroic youth."