Here's what was going through this Iraq War veteran's head during the moment in battle that earned his Medal of Honour

David Bellavia/US ArmySoldiers of 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, enter and clear a building during heavy fighting, Nov. 9, 2004, in the Askari District of North Eastern Fallujah.
  • David Bellavia will become the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honour on Tuesday.
  • Speaking at the Pentagon on Monday afternoon, he detailed some of his thoughts and emotions at the time of his Medal of Honour moment – the moment when Bellavia acted bravely enough to earn this honour.
  • He told reporters that this award represents many people, including many people who did not return home from their service.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

David Bellavia, who will receive the nation’s highest military honour Tuesday for his heroic actions in Iraq, offered rare insight into his Medal of Honour moment at the Pentagon on Monday, revealing the thoughts and emotions that flooded his brain as he charged into a house filled with insurgents in Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004.

Former Staff Sergeant Bellavia and his team were clearing houses in support of Operation Phantom Fury. In one house, insurgents ambushed his squad, pinning them down. Bellavia rushed inside the house to provide suppressing cover fire so that his fellow soldiers could exit the building safely.

Ret. Sgt. First Class Colin Fitts told reporters that had it not been for Bellavia, he probably wouldn’t be here today.

After Bellavia and his squad got out, a Bradley fighting vehicle hit the war-torn house hard, but not hard enough to eliminate the threat. It was necessary for someone to head inside and clear the building of insurgents, who were armed with rocket-propelled grenades, among other weapons.

“David Bellavia had to go back into a darkened, nightmare of a house where he knew there were at least five or six suicidal jihadis waiting,” Michael Ware, an embedded reporter who was with the staff sergeant and personally witnessed the Medal of Honour moment, told press at the Pentagon.

Engagements on the first floorUS ArmyEngagements on the first floor

Supported by one fellow soldier inside and three outside, Bellavia re-entered the house, fighting room-to-room, killing four insurgents and mortally wounding a fifth in the fierce fight.

Engagements on the second floorUS ArmyEngagements on the second floor

“A lot of things go through your mind. Some are very rational. Some are completely irrational,” Bellavia explained. “The first thing you’re thinking about you’re scared, you’re life is on the line. The second thing you’re thinking is you’re angry. How dare anyone try to hurt us. How dare anyone try to step up against the US military.”

“You’re angry. You’re scared,” he said, telling reporters that it’s a certain kind of peer pressure that keeps you moving forward. “When you’re peer is asking for help … it’s easy. Peer pressure might make you smoke cigarettes at 13. But, peer pressure can also make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. It’s about who your peers are.”

Bellavia talked a little about the house he cleared, and it sounded horrific. He explained that the scenes when he first entered and when he re-entered the house were very different due to the extreme redecorating the Bradley fighting vehicle did prior to his re-entry.

“The water had ruptured. All of the plumbing inside. Fallujah had been abandoned for months. So, that water was very unpleasant. It assaulted your senses,” he revealed, adding that there were propane tanks lying about, broken mirrors, makeshift bunkers, and insurgents hopped up on experimental drugs in the dark.

“It was tough. The mind is playing tricks on you,” he said, “You don’t know if you are firing at the same individual or if this is a new individual. A person gets dropped, then they disappear.”

Bellavia said he “thought it was a real possibility” that he wouldn’t make it out.

Bellavia will become the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the Medal of Honour, an upgrade of the Silver Star he initially received, for “conspicuous gallantry” during his time in the Army. Speaking to reporters at the Pentagon Monday, he said that this honour “represents many different people,” including many who never came home.

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