Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump will award the Medal of Honor to former Army Staff Sgt. David Bellavia later this month, the White House announced Monday, making him the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the nation's highest military decoration.
Soldier to become Iraq War's first living Medal of Honor recipient
Bellavia, 43, was previously awarded the Silver Star but will have that distinction upgraded to a Medal of Honor -- the nation's highest award for combat valor -- during a White House ceremony on June 25. To date, the Medal of Honor had only been awarded posthumously to service members who served during the Iraq War.
"Bellavia will receive the Medal of Honor for his actions on November 10, 2004, while serving as a squad leader in support of Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah, Iraq," the White House said in a statement.
It was Bellavia's 29th birthday.
Specifically, Bellavia, who at the time was with A Company, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment,1st Infantry Division, was clearing a block of houses when his platoon became pinned down by enemy fire.
"He entered the house where his squad was trapped, and engaged insurgents, providing cover fire so that he and his fellow soldiers could exit safely," according to his citation. "Then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia re-entered the house, armed with an M16, and assaulted insurgents who were firing rocket-propelled grenades."
"That remarkable day, then-Staff Sergeant Bellavia rescued an entire squad, cleared an insurgent strongpoint, and saved many members of his platoon from imminent threat," it said.
"Staff Sergeant David Bellavia exhibited remarkable courage in Fallujah on November 10, 2004, when he exposed himself to enemy fire and entered and cleared a house full of insurgents to save members of his platoon. His actions serve as an inspiration to all Americans," acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan tweeted Monday.
"This month, he will deservedly become the first living Medal of Honor recipient of the Iraq War. He serves as a symbol of the bravery and selflessness of his generation of war veterans," he said.