Batavia, N.Y. (WHAM) – The City of Batavia presented the “Key to the City” to U.S. Army Staff Sergeant David Bellavia on Tuesday afternoon.
Bellavia, who served in the U.S. Army during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004, was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump on June 25, 2019 at the White House. The honor was given for his actions during a house-to-house operation in the second battle of Fallujah.
The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military award for valor.
On his 29th birthday, Bellavia’s company was tasked with going house to house to search for Iraqi insurgents that had been attacking American troops. During that search, he attacked and killed five insurgents – one with a knife in a room full of explosives that made it too risky to fire his weapon.
The Batavia man is the first living U.S. military veteran of the Iraq War to receive the Medal of Honor.
Batavia City Council and New York Assemblyman Steve Hawley, as well as other members of local and state government, attended the ceremony – as did citizens who wanted to show their support for the veteran.
“I know Dave; he’s a great American hero in my book,” said Bill Fox of LeRoy. “He fought for this country, and I think anybody, whether they’ve fought in war or if they’ve served this country, they’re great people, and they need more respect than what we give to them.”
During the ceremony, Bellavia encouraged young men and women to explore a career in the armed forces. He added that, during his outreach tour after being awarded the Medal of Honor, he has learned there is much more that unites America than divides it.
“When it comes to defending the principles set down in our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution, our founders can rest easy knowing that their ideals are well-defended by a professional class of warriors that are representative of any pie graph that purports to illustrate our societal divides,” he said. “…Look around you, and see that America is still the shining city on the hill. We serve regardless of who the president is, regardless of what party controls Congress, and we put our politics aside in homage to the transcendent idea of what America is.”