WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Chaplain for the National Training Center/Fort Irwin, Lt. Col. Ric Brown, visited the White House in Washington, as a guest of the first, living recipient from the Iraq War to receive the Medal of Honor, during ceremonies from June 24-26.
Staff Sgt. David Bellavia served with Brown in 2004 and received the honor for his service, saving an infantry squad and clearing a house of insurgents during the Battle of Fallujah.
Bellavia wrote a book called House to House, which details his experience in Fallujah and also mentions having Brown as a chaplain in the same battalion.
“As Staff Sgt. Bellavia’s Chaplain at the time of these actions, I am first grateful that he is alive to tell the tale,” Brown said. “The four losses during this operation were four, too many. It was an amazing honor to be a witness to a Soldier I know personally, stand before the Commander in Chief and receive the nation’s highest honor…humbling when he invited those of us who served with him on the platform. I am glad he and those men and women of 2-2 Infantry were finally, fully recognized for their amazing actions during the 2nd Battle of Fallujah.”
Bellavia first received the Silver Star medal (the military’s third-most distinguished decoration), before it was upgraded to the Medal of Honor.
President Donald Trump presented Bellavia with the military’s highest award of valor at the White House June 25. Five others who also fought in Iraq were awarded their Medal of Honor posthumously.
“It’s not enough to acknowledge the fallen by name or just inscribe their names in marble as proof that they lived and died,” Bellavia said. “To truly acknowledge the fallen, we must acknowledge how and why they gave their lives. Their death wasn’t a random act or a splash of misfortune. These men and women voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way, prepared to died, so that we may rest secured at home.”
Bellavia’s grandfather, Joseph Brunacini, also served in the Army during the Normandy Campaign in World War II and earned a Bronze Star for his valor.
“I think the uniform, my Army has made us all better men, fathers, employees, husbands and citizens,” Bellavia said at his Hall of Heroes Induction ceremony.