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About David Bellavia
Staff Sergeant David Bellavia spent six years in the U.S. Army, including some of the most intense fighting of the Iraq War. He has been awarded the Silver Star and Bronze Star for his actions in Iraq, and recommended for the Distinguished Service Cross and Medal of Honor for his actions in Fallujah. In 2005, he received the Conspicuous Service Cross (New York State's highest award for military valor) and was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans Hall of Fame. He is the cofounder of Vets for Freedom, an advocacy organization of veterans concerned about the politicization of media coverage of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. His writing has been published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, National Review, The Weekly Standard, and other publications. He lives in western New York.
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Titles By David Bellavia
“A rare and gripping account of frontline combat.”—LTG (Ret.) H.R. McMaster, author of Dereliction of Duty
“They used to say that the real war will never get in the books. Here it does, stunningly.” —Thomas E. Ricks, author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq and Making the Corps
“To read this book is to know intimately the daily grind and danger of men at war.”—Anthony Swofford, New York Times bestselling author of Jarhead
One of the great heroes of the Iraq War, Staff Sergeant David Bellavia captures the brutal action and raw intensity of leading his Third Platoon, Alpha Company, into a lethally choreographed kill zone: the booby-trapped, explosive-laden houses of Fallujah's militant insurgents. Bringing to searing life the terrifying intimacy of hand-to-hand infantry combat, this stunning war memoir features an indelibly drawn cast of characters, not all of whom would make it out alive, as well as the chilling account of the singular courage that earned Bellavia the Medal of Honor: Entering one house alone, he used every weapon at his disposal in the fight of his life against America's most implacable enemy. Bellavia has written an unforgettable story of triumph, tragedy, and the resilience of the human spirit.
An extraordinary re-envisioning of the scope and ambitions of the contemporary military memoir: the Iraq War’s only living Medal of Honor recipient examines the bonds and wounds of war across two decades.
After fourteen years apart, forty veterans of brutal close-quarters combat, lost souls to a man, were brought back together when one of them, the author, received the Medal of Honor. Their impromptu reunion in June 2019 helped heal them all—and saved more than a few of them too. This is their story.
In 2004, David Bellavia’s U.S. Army unit, an infantry battalion known as the Ramrods—2nd Battalion 2nd infantry regiment, 1st Infantry Division—fought and helped win the Battle of Fallujah, the bloodiest episode of the Iraq War. On November 10, 2004, Bellavia single-handedly cleared a fortified enemy position that had pinned down a squad from his platoon. Fourteen years later, Bellavia got a call from the president of the United States: he had been awarded a Medal of Honor and would receive America’s highest award for bravery in combat in a ceremony at the White House.
The news was not welcome. Bellavia had put the war behind him, created a quiet life for himself in rural western New York, and lost touch with most of his fellow Ramrods, who were once like brothers to him. The first time they gathered as a unit after the war was at Bellavia’s medal ceremony, for six days in Washington, DC, that may have saved them all. As they revisited what they had seen and done in battle and revealed to each other their journeys back into civilian life, they discovered that the bonds had not been broken by time. A decoration for one became a healing event for all.
This book—beginning in brutal war and ending with this momentous, transformative reunion—covers the journey of Bellavia’s platoon through fifteen years. A quintessential and timeless American tale, it is the story of how forty battle-hardened soldiers became ordinary citizens again, what they did during that time, how November 10, 2004, rattled in them, and how their reunion brought them home at last.