Programming note: When President Donald Trump gives David Bellavia the Medal of Honor at 3:30 p.m., you can watch the ceremony live on News 4, on air or online.
When David Bellavia receives the Medal of Honor on Tuesday in the White House for his heroism in the Iraq War, the families of some of his squad mates will be on his mind.
The Batavia resident and Western New York native enlisted in the military when he was 23 years old. He was a staff sergeant in Nov, 2004, clearing a block of buildings in the Iraqi city of Fallujah, when his platoon became trapped.
Bellavia provided cover for his fellow soldiers to escape, then killed four of the attackers. He was awarded the Silver Star for his actions.
“I just want to tell you all that if it were not for David Bellavia I wouldn’t be sitting here today,” said retired Sgt. 1st Class Colin Fitts.
“We couldn’t get out. We couldn’t do anything. We were stuck there. I had to ask David to help me out, and he did that.”
As Bellavia sat in a room at the Pentagon on Monday with a few of his old squad mates, he referred to this honor as awkward.
“It’s so awkward to be singled out. It’s not the way we do things. It’s all about the team. It’s all about the mission,” he said.
Bellavia found out he would receive this honor months ago. Now that he’s one day from receiving the Medal of Honor, he says he’s starting to feel the gravity of the situation.
“When you’re in the Pentagon, it certainly, this is real now. It’s real. It’s happening. I can’t really enjoy what’s happening because I’m so focused on how everyone else is – I just want everyone to experience these things,” Bellavia said.
At home, there’s much speculation about what the future holds for Bellavia. He’s currently a radio commentator on WBEN, and there’s speculation he may be a converted congressional candidate, but he said he’s thinking about the army.
“The first thing is, what the army has in store. If that schedule is a two-year schedule, if it’s a three-year commitment, whatever it is, that’s my first priority. My country is first. My family is second, myself and my own ambition is third,” Bellavia said.