An Army staff sergeant who ran into a Fallujah house swarming with insurgents and single-handedly eliminated them one by one will receive the Medal of Honor on June 25, the White House confirmed Monday morning in an announcement.
The news that David Bellavia, a 43-year-old former infantry staff sergeant from Batavia, New York, would receive the military's highest award for valor broke Friday and was independently confirmed by Military.com.
The award is an upgrade from Bellavia's previously awarded Silver Star and honors his exceptional bravery in what the White House in its announcement called "a remarkable day."
On Nov. 10, 2004, Bellavia entered a house in Fallujah, Iraq, carrying an M249 Squad Automatic Weapon and was confronted by armed insurgents. Over the course of the fight -- during which he'd take on attackers with an M249, then an M16 rifle, then a knife -- he would kill four enemy fighters and wound another.
"Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia rescued an entire squad, cleared an insurgent strongpoint, and saved many members of his platoon from imminent threat," the announcement states.
Bellavia, who wrote a 2007 book titled "House to House: An Epic Memoir of War," will be the first living Medal of Honor recipient from Operation Iraqi Freedom, and just the sixth overall from that conflict.
Bellavia enlisted in 1999 and had previously deployed to Kosovo. After leaving the Army in 2005, he went on to co-found a political advocacy organization, Vets for Freedom, and remains active in the military and veteran communities. He runs a daily radio talk show for station WBEN out of Buffalo, New York.