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Iraq war veteran stabbed sleeping stranger 'just because he wanted to kill somebody,' prosecutors say
VISTA, Calif. — One night in March 2017, Mikhail Schmidt was looking for a victim. He wanted someone vulnerable, a prosecutor said Wednesday.
And when he saw plumber Jacob Bravo "stumbling drunk" on an Oceanside street, Schmidt "figures out that's his mark, that's what I am looking for," Deputy District Attorney Cal Logan told a jury in Superior Court.
Schmidt, now on trial in a Vista courtroom, followed Bravo back to a construction-site trailer. As the victim slept in the trailer, Schmidt sneaked inside and stabbed him, the prosecutor said during his opening statement.
When a defense lawyer spoke to the jury in court Wednesday, he didn't dispute outright that Schmidt committed the stabbing, but said the defendant was "was under the clear belief" at the time of the killing that he worked for a secret government agency known as "Orange."
"Sit with an open mind," attorney Brad Patton told jurors, "and I will be back to tell you what this all means."
A group of vets are raising money to pay for a medal the Iraqi government awarded them, but never delivered
In June 2011 Iraq's defense minister announced that U.S. troops who had deployed to the country would receive the Iraq Commitment Medal in recognition of their service. Eight years later, millions of qualified veterans have yet to receive it.
The reason: The Iraqi government has so far failed to provide the medals to the Department of Defense for approval and distribution.
A small group of veterans hopes to change that.
Moments before Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia went back into the house, journalist Michael Ware said he was "pacing like a caged tiger ... almost like he was talking to himself."
"I distinctly remember while everybody else had taken cover temporarily, there out in the open on the street — still exposed to the fire from the roof — was David Bellavia," Ware told Task & Purpose on Monday. "David stopped pacing, he looked up and sees that the only person still there on the street is me. And I'm just standing there with my arms folded.
"He looked up from the pacing, stared straight into my eyes, and said 'Fuck it.' And I stared straight back at him and said 'Fuck it,'" Ware said. "And that's when I knew, we were both going back in that house."
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.
In news that will shock no one, service members and veterans are less than thrilled that the United States is still embroiled in conflicts — or "advise and assist" missions, to use Pentagon parlance — in Iraq and Afghanistan.