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Watch Donald Trump present the Medal of Honor at the White House



ladies and gentlemen please join me as we mark this ceremony and a word of Prayer the Lord is my light in my salvation in whom shall I fear the Lord is the stronghold of my life and of whom shall I be afraid righteous just and loving God today we gather to honor the spirit of a warrior who put others safety above his own and ran toward danger meeting it face to face we give thanks for Staff Sergeant David Bellavia an example of heroism whose spirit shone bright in the darkest hours of battle his character commitment and courage were revealed in a moment but they were forged over a lifetime by his faith his family his friends and a disciplined life of selfless devotion to duty god bless David his family and his many comrades in arms this very day let his life legacy and indeed this very metal that is placed around his neck be an inspiration for all to face our fears and place others over self I pray these things in your mighty and most holy and gracious name amen thank you very much please Thank You chaplain very much it's really beautiful today is my privilege to award the highest military honour to an American soldier who demonstrated exceptional courage to protect his men and defend our nation will you please join me in welcoming Staff Sergeant David Bellavia David [Applause] David is the first living recipient to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor for his bravery in the Iraq war and we're honored to have with us distinguished leaders of our military I want to recognize acting deputy secretary of defense David Norquist David thank you very much and congratulations acting secretary of the army Ryan McCarthy Ryan just happened yesterday so I have to figure out congratulations vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Paul Selva thank you Paul army chief of staff general mark Milley hi mark and sergeant major of the army Daniel daily Thank You Daniel very much thanks as well to members of Congress who join us Representative Liz Cheney thanks Liz Chris Collins thanks Chris Dan Crenshaw Tom Reed thank you I see over there Tom thank you very much joining David for this special ceremony or his wife Deanna and three children Evan Aiden and Vivian along with his mother Marilyn and his brothers Daniel and Rand I want to thank you all for being here very special day for you and for all of us for the nation actually David's father William passed away in 2017 and though he's no longer with us we know that today he must be one of those proud dads he's looking down upon us from heaven and he's very proud of his son and his sons family I have to say that thank you David finally we are gratified to be joined by eight previous Medal of Honor recipients and I have to tell you I've got to know just about all of them you are forever with us you inspire us you are truly brave great people thank you very much for being brave people David grew up in western New York he was the youngest of four children as a boy he would listen to stories from his grandfather a World War two veteran and hero in his own right who earned a Bronze Star in the Normandy campaign I just came back from Normandy that was something as David remembers his grandfather's stories were always vivid with sources of pride and they were delivered very beautifully there was a nobility and purpose in the infantry and David saw that at a very young age I wanted to be what my grandfather was David would often say I wanted to be part of this noble adventure set right it's a pretty good quote would you say better say yes otherwise I have a problem in 1999 David followed the example of his grandfather and joined the United States Army infantry several months after the September 11th attack on our nation David deployed saying goodbye to his wife and his son Evan he served in Germany Kosovo and then in Iraq in November of 2004 after nearly a year of intense enemy combat reck David led his squad into battle to liberate the city of Fallujah and anti Iraq forces I was a tough place this operation was the bloodiest battle of the Iraq war for three days straight David it has been kicked down doors searched houses and destroyed enemy weapons never knowing where they would find a terrorist lurking next and there were plenty of them the third day of battle was November 10th David's 29th birthday that night his squad was tasked with clearing 12 houses occupied by insurgents very dangerous operation they entered house after house and secured nine of the buildings then came to 10th that was a tough one it was a three-story building surrounded by a nine-foot wall as they entered the house and moved into the living room two were behind concrete barricades they opened fire on David and everybody in the dark of night shards of glass brick and plaster flew into the air wounding multiple soldiers the rounds of fire ripped holes into the wall separating the Americans from the terrorists that wall was ripped to shreds David knew they had to get out David thought that they had had it he lept into the torrent of bullets and fired back at the enemy without even thinking the insurgents he just took over David took over he provided suppressive fire while his men evacuate rescuing his entire squad at the risk of his own life only when his men were all out did David exit the building but the fighting was far from over militants on the roof fired down at them with round after deadly round a Bradley Fighting Vehicle came to the scene to suppress the enemy and drove them further into the building knowing that he would face almost certain death David decided to go back inside the house and make sure that not a single terrorist escaped alive or escaped in any way he quickly encountered an insurgent who was about to fire a rocket-propelled grenade at his squad David once again jumped into danger and killed him before he had a chance to launch that grenade next two more insurgents came out of hiding and fired at David he returned fire killing them both then a third assailant burst out of a wardrobe wearing a wardrobe and opened fire David shot and wounded the man but he escaped up the stairs racing after him David engaged in hand-to-hand combat and killed him too bleeding and badly wounded David had single-handedly defeated the forces who had attacked his unit and would have killed them all had it not been for the bravery of David just then yet another combatant jumped down from the third storey roof and attacked David shot him and the assailant fell off the balcony alone in the dark David killed four insurgents and seriously wounded the fifth saving his soldiers and facing down the enemies of civilization here with us today are 32 American servicemembers who fought with David in Iraq including 12 who are with David on that very very horrible and dangerous November night please stand [Applause] did he do a good job if not you know it's not too late thank you very much for being here we appreciate it very much also with us are five families of David's brothers and arms who made the supreme sacrifice to the gold star families of Shawn Simms Stephen Falkenberg Scott Lawson JC Madison and Michael Carlson our entire nation expresses our love loyalty and everlasting gratitude please stand thank you very much for being here appreciate it thank you David often tells young people Americans don't want to fight but if someone picks a fight with us we will always win because we don't fight for awards or recognition we fight for a love of our country our homeland our family and our unit and that's stronger than anything the enemy has so thank you and thank you to his family very much great family David thank you David exemplifies the same Warrior Ethos that gave his grandfather and all of the heroes of Normandy the strength to defeat evil exactly 75 years ago I hear that his grandfather Joseph is now 99 years old and that today he's watching this ceremony at his home in Jamestown New York a lot of people are watching David America is blessed with the heroes and great people like Staff Sergeant Bellavia whose intrepid spirit and unwavering resolve defeats our enemies protects our freedoms and defends our great American flag David today we honor your extraordinary courage we salute your selfless service and we thank you for carrying on the legacy of American valor that has always made our Blessed nation the strongest and mightiest anywhere in the world and we're doing better today than we've ever done our country is stronger now and we're doing better economically than ever before we're setting records and you fought for something that's really good and we appreciate it David really appreciate it thank you and now I'm very pleased to ask the military aide to come forward while I present the Congressional Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David Bellavia please the President of the United States of America authorized by act of Congress March 3rd 1863 has awarded in the name of Congress the Medal of Honor to Staff Sergeant David G Bellavia United States Army for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty Staff Sergeant David G Bellavia distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on November 10th 2004 while serving as squad leader in support of operation phantom fury in Fallujah Iraq while clearing a house a squad from Staff Sergeant bellavia's platoon came became trapped within a room by intense enemy fire coming from a fortified position under the stairs leading to the second floor recognizing the immediate severity of the situation and with disregard for his own safety Staff Sergeant Bellavia retrieved an automatic weapon and heard the doorway of the house to engage the insurgents with enemy rounds impacting around him Staff Sergeant Bellavia fire at the enemy position had a cyclic rate providing covering fire that allowed the squad to break contact and exit the house a Bradley Fighting Vehicle was brought forward to suppress the enemy however due to high walls surrounding the house it could not fire directly at the enemy position Staff Sergeant Bellavia then reentered the house and again came under intense enemy fire he observed an enemy insurgent preparing to launch a rocket-propelled grenade at his platoon recognizing the grave danger that grenade posed to his fellow soldiers Staff Sergeant Bellavia assaulted the enemy position killing one insurgent and wounding another who ran to a different part of the house Staff Sergeant Bolivia realizing he had an uncleared darkened room to his back moved to clear it as he entered an insurgent came down the stairs firing at him simultaneously the previously wounded insurgent re-emerged and engaged Staff Sergeant Bolivia Staff Sergeant Bellavia entering further into the darkened room returned fire and eliminated both insurgents Staff Sergeant Bolivia then received enemy fire from another insurgent emerging from a closet in the darkened room exchanging gunfire staffs are Bellavia pursued the enemy up the stairs and eliminated him now on the second floor Staff Sergeant Bellavia moved to a door that opened onto the roof at this point a fifth insurgent left from the third floor roof onto the second floor roof Staff Sergeant Bellavia engaged the insurgent through a window wounding him in the back and legs and caused him to fall off the roof acting on instinct to save the members of his platoon from an imminent threat Staff Sergeant Bellavia ultimately cleared an entire enemy field house destroyed four insurgents and badly wounded a fifth Staff Sergeant bellavia's bravery complete disregard for his own safety and unselfish and courageous actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army [Applause] yes [Applause] please join me most holy God as we go from this place let this ceremony be a reminder of your faithfulness and a challenge to us all to live a life of courage and honor placing the needs of others first thank you for the life of Staff Sergeant David Bellavia may his life be an inspiration to each of us Lord as we walked be our light in our guide bless our nation and keep the lamp of Liberty burning bright and your most gracious in the Holy Name I pray amen ladies and gentlemen please remain in your seats until the president has departed the East Room thank you you

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