On June 25, 2019, retired U.S. Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump. Staff Sergeant Bellavia, 44, is the only living Iraq War veteran to receive the honor.

The following excerpt is shared from Staff Sergeant Bellavia’s Medal of Honor profile on the U.S. Army website.

Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia was a squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq. Their mission on the night of Nov. 10, 2004, was to clear a block of 12 buildings, where it was thought six or more insurgents had taken shelter. A Bradley Fighting Vehicle was supposed to provide fire support, but a malfunction on its 25mm cannon meant the platoon would have to kill or capture the anti-Iraqi forces (AIF) without it.

After finding nothing in the first nine buildings, Bellavia’s platoon moved into the next compound, where they immediately came under fire from the front hallway. Two insurgents manning machine guns under a stairwell had been waiting to ambush the Soldiers as they attempted to clear the home. Moments later, more AIF opened fire from a window. The combined gunfire from the stairwell and the window meant the Soldiers were trapped.

Rounds from the insurgent weapons struck the walls and floor, and began wounding Soldiers. Two were bleeding from the face due to shattered glass, and another was grazed by a round to his stomach. Unless something happened quickly, the trapped Soldiers would die.

Watch: Amazing speech from Medal of Honor recipient Army Staff Sgt. David G. Bellavia
AIF House First Floor Engagement

Decisive Action

Recognizing the danger they were in, Bellavia exchanged weapons with an M249 SAW gunner and entered the fatal funnel of the room. As enemy rounds snapped past and impacted the walls around him, Bellavia squeezed the SAW’s trigger until it was empty, forcing the enemy to take cover and allowing the Soldiers to move into the street.

Staff Sgt. Bellavia then called for another Bradley Fighting Vehicle to suppress the outside of the building. After the BFV fired several 25mm rounds into the house, Bellavia decided to move back inside to determine whether insurgents still occupied the bottom floor of the house. He placed two SAW gunners and another Soldier in the courtyard as the inner cordon while he and Michael Ware, a TIME magazine journalist, entered the house.

Upon entering, Bellavia heard insurgents whispering from the other side of the wall. Mr. Ware was told to run if anything happened, but he insisted on following. Bellavia entered the room and fired at the insurgents, but was forced to fall back after receiving return fire.

Staff Sgt. Bellavia looked into the room a second time and saw one of the insurgents loading an RPG launcher. Understanding how devastating the weapon could be to his platoon, Bellavia single-handedly assaulted the room and killed the insurgent with the RPG. A second insurgent fired a machine gun at Bellavia, who shot and wounded him before he fled into a kitchen.