FIRST LIVING IRAQ WAR VETERAN WILL RECIEVE THE MEDAL OF HONOR

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 Trump will present the medal to Bellavia on 25 JUNE in a White House ceremony.

On 10 November, 2004, Staff Sergeant David G. Bellavia was serving as a Platoon Leader in Task Force 2-2 of the 1st Infantry Division. While clearing houses in Fallujah, Iraq, his platoon was pinned down by insurgents in another room.

CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD
OF
THE MEDAL OF HONOR
TO
STAFF SERGEANT DAVID G. BELLAVIA

Staff Sergeant David S. Bellavia distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company A, Task Force 2-2, 1st Infantry Division, in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM during the battle for Al Fallujah, Iraq, on 10 November 2004. On that date Sergeant Bellavia’s platoon was ordered to clear a block of 12 buildings from which Jihadists were firing on American forces. The first nine buildings were unoccupied, but were found to be filled with enemy rockets, grenade launchers and other kinds of weapons. When Bellavia and four others entered the tenth building, they came under fire from insurgents in the house. Other soldiers came to reinforce the squad and a fierce battle at close quarters ensued. Many American soldiers were injured from the gunfire and flying debris. At this point, Sergeant Bellavia, armed with a M249 SAW gun, entered the room where the insurgents were located and sprayed the room with gunfire, forcing the Jihadists to take cover and allowing the squad to move out into the street. Jihadists on the roof began firing at the squad, forcing them to take cover in a nearby building. Sergeant Bellavia then went back to the street and called in a Bradley Fighting Vehicle to shell the houses. After this was done, he decided to re-enter the building to determine whether the enemy fighters were still active. Seeing a Jihadist loading an RPG launcher, Sergeant Bellavia gunned him down. A second Jihadist began firing as the soldier ran toward the kitchen and Bellavia fired back, wounding him in the shoulder. A third Jihadist began yelling from the second floor. Sergeant Bellavia then entered the uncleared master bedroom and emptied gunfire into all the corners, at which point the wounded insurgent entered the room, yelling and firing his weapon. Sergeant Bellavia fired back, killing the man. Sergeant Bellavia then came under fire from the insurgent upstairs and the staff sergeant returned the fire, killing the man. At that point, a Jihadist hiding in a wardrobe in a bedroom jumped out, firing wildly around the room and knocking over the wardrobe. As the man leaped over the bed he tripped and Sergeant Bellavia shot him several times, wounding but not killing him. Another insurgent was yelling from upstairs, and the wounded Jihadist escaped the bedroom and ran upstairs. Sergeant Bellavia pursued, but slipped on the blood-soaked stairs. The wounded insurgent fired at him but missed. He followed the bloody tracks up the stairs to a room to the left. Hearing the wounded insurgent inside, he threw a fragmentary grenade into the room, sending the wounded Jihadist onto the roof. The insurgent fired his weapon in all directions until he ran out of ammunition. He then started back into the bedroom, which was rapidly filling with smoke. Hearing two other insurgents screaming from the third story of the building, Sergeant Bellavia put a choke hold on the wounded insurgent to keep him from giving away their position. The wounded Jihadist then bit Sergeant Bellavia on the arm and smacked him in the face with the butt of his AK-47. In the wild scuffle that followed, Sergeant Bellavia took out his knife and slit the Jihadist’s throat. Two other insurgents who were trying to come to their comrade’s rescue, fired at Bellavia, but he had slipped out of the room, which was now full of smoke and fire. Without warning, another insurgent dropped from the third story to the second-story roof. Sergeant Bellavia fired at him, hitting him in the back and the legs and causing him to fall off the roof, dead. At this point, five members of 3d Platoon entered the house and took control of the first floor. Before they would finish off the remaining Jihadists, however, they were ordered to move out of the area because close air support had been called in by a nearby unit.

Brian and Abby’s Wedding- Behind the Scenes

On September 25th, 2004, my oldest son Brian made the smartest decision in his life. He married Abby. Abby’s Story is a really good post her on her Blog. A beautiful story that will bring out the tissues. This is a story about what she didn’t see.

The Trip

Our story starts in Houston, Texas. We, the soon to be in-laws were flying from Las Vegas to Charleston I had no illusions, four year old Rosie was to be the flower girl and  we  were escorting her eastward. We had to change planes in Houston and we landed in a thunderstorm. It was sporting.  When the pilot put the 757 on the runway it was more an impact than a touchdown. Then the skidding started. For only the second time in my life I was wondering if we’d survive a flight.  The nose swung left and I thought, “We’re going off on the left”. Then the nose swung right. “Okay, we’re off on the right”. At least I could see where we were heading.  I’m counting rows to the emergency exit in front of us. Then we swung back and the flight resumed being normal. Rosie and her Mom were first time fliers and were all excited as we came down the jetway. As I was watching them, number two son Tim leaned over and whispered, “Were we crashing when we landed?”

We had about an hour lay over and spent the time watching the weather channel. The topic of everyone’s conversations was hurricane Jeanne. Our blushing bride had selected to have her nuptials at the exact time and place Jeanne was predicted to make landfall. WOOHOO! I usually don’t drink when I fly. But this wasn’t one of those times. Jack and Coke please.

Meet Jeanne. She was a real bitch.

When we got back from the bar the weather channel announced that Jeanne had changed course and was now headed for Florida.  My bride literally screamed “WOO HOO!”. I was horrified as the line for the flight to Jacksonville turned as one towards us. 100 angry faces. “Oh shit.”

Me: “Let’s go get a drink.”

Her: “We already had a drink.”

Me: “Let’s go eat.”

Her: “I’m not hungry”.

Me:”Let’s go smoke.”

Her: “We just did.”

Me:”Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

Her: “Why?”

Me:”Because those nice folks flying to Florida are going to kill you.”

Her: “Oh.”

The Beach House

We got to Charleston in the dead of night. Brian picked us up and drove us to The Beach House. It would serve as the Command Post of the wedding and the place where all the guests were bedding down. It was a brilliant idea. Some of us (mostly me) hadn’t seen these folks for years. I was nervously wondering if Brian’s uncle Paul still wanted to kick the shit out of me because of the divorce.

beach-houseWhen we got there the house was bustling with activity. I think we were the last to arrive but the womenfolk were out shopping for food. Coffee was made. Sandwiches were passed out. we all sat around catching up. I think the party broke up late. Paul and I were friends again and there was an inside family joke that I was the butt of. Suffice to say that Brian’s Mom refused to come on the mention of my name. Sort of. There’s more to it but that’s a family secret. Needless to say Paul kept ribbing me about it.

Rosie being all of four was overwhelmed by all the grownups. Paul’s wife Tina met Rosie and said the best thing I have ever heard someone say to a toddler. “Hi Rosie, my name is Tina. How old are you? Four? I’m four too. Let’s be buddies.” Wow. Tina and I had bonded years before. We were the family outlaws (kinda like in-laws only with attitude). We both share a wicked sense of humor. I was stunned to she that she was bald. Her friend was going through chemo and Tina shaved her head in support. That’s the kind of person Tina is. No half stepping

Tina
Tina

The Wedding Day

Despite of the late night, morning came early for all of us. Paul was banging out a Southern Breakfast. As we ate, the organizing began. Brian and I, with a couple of groomsmen in tow went to do a beach reconnaissance. We observed quite a few weddings in progress and noted the pros and cons of each. Tell everyone to be bare foot. Check. We watched a bridal arch fly into the wind giving the bride a shiner. Make sure arch is secure. Check. We picked a spot conveniently across the street from the Beach House. Wedding scheduled for sunset. Plenty of time to move chairs and stuff across the street.

beach

Meanwhile, Rosie getting ready for her role as Flower Girl. The bridal party showed up and sequestered themselves in the master bedroom. They grabbed Rosie and made sure her dress fit. Dress fits. Check. Cute hat. Check. Flower basket. Check. Flowers? Um…not check. In all the planning, flowers for the Flower Girl was missed. No problem. The back yard has a lovely flower garden. Rosie was unleashed to the back yard to “pick some pretty flowers”.  She proceeded to defoliate that back yard. Ooops. Hope nobody notices.

After lunch and a little…. okay a lot of Madden it was time to set up the wedding. The menfolk saddled up and started dragging chairs across the street.

Note: “Artistic” seaweed.

We had forgot one tiny thing. The Tide. What was acres of beach in the morning was replaced by the Atlantic Ocean. Whoops. The groomsmen were stunned into inaction. WTF? The area that was close to dry was strewn with seaweed and trash. With disaster imminent, I took charge.”You two start setting up chairs. Everyone else, cleanup.” A trash can magically appeared and filled. Check. Seaweed moved. Um…no check. There was too much to move. There was another problem. the waves were lapping in suggesting that the Bride and Groom would exchange vows about ankle deep. So I got artistic. If we can’t get rid of the seaweed, arrange it artistically as a back drop and a handy dam to hold the waves back. CHECK!

 

Here Comes the Bride

Rosie.

The music started. There must have been music. Some of this is a little hazy for me. Of course I was crying. It was incredibly beautiful.  Jeanne way down south was painting the Carolina sky with colors one only sees in Heaven. The evening fog was just starting. The wedding party came out through the bushes and mist like wood nymphs. Rosie lead the way, basket overflowing. She was pelting the groom’s side because she was throwing flowers at people she knew. Someone said, “Throw some one the other side Sweetie.” Dutifully, Rosie hauled back and delivered fistful of flowers point blank into the Bride’s Grandmother’s face. Right on the Kisser. The hush over the crowd was broken up when Grandma started to laugh. Close one.

BridesmaidsWind started to kick up as Brian and Abby exchanged vows. It was then that Rosie’s  hat flew off. It flew right to left all the way to the end. With out breaking the moment or their pose for that matter. The hat was caught and passed back to be put on Rosie’s head. Continue with wedding. Check. Bridesmaid’s hand firmly on top up of Rosie’s head. Check.  After the newly weds left, everyone picked up their chair or whatever and the site was field stripped in no time at all.

Paul and Tina took the arch.

The Reception

Back to the Beach House. “Rosie don’t touch the cake”. Okay cake cut.  Check. Let the dancing BEGIN!! For the Father/Daughter dance, they shagged. Cool as shit. The Party raged. Somewhere along, the traditional pictures were taken. Presents were opened. Abby’s little brother Adam jumped from the roof into the pool. Check.

Father/Daughter Dance.

Dancing with the Father-in-Law.

 

The Dads.

GROUP HUG!!!!

NO!!! HE’S MINE!!!

JUST MARRIED!

The Day After

Needless to say, no one drove home. Everyone woke up a little slower. Kisses good bye and one by one and in small groups everyone took their leave. We were going to stay for a vacation at Brian and Abby’s so we were left there with the newly weds. We all piled into Brian’s car and went about six blocks. That’s where the car died. Um….not check. Brian lifted the hood and proceeded to do automotive maintenance. I pitched in while the women watched. you could smell the testosterone. The autopsy pronounced the car…..dead. While the menfolk  were brainstorming trips to the parts store or maybe the car rental, Abby said, “Why don’t we just call someone?”  Did I mention it was raining?  Her Dad came to the rescue. But it took a couple of hours. So we went shopping. We cruised the strip mall checking out tourist shops and introducing Rosie’s Mom to Southern groceries.

And They Lived Happily Ever After