I just finished reading SSG David Bellavia's (with John Bruning) book House to House. It is a well written, first-person view of the war in Iraq circa 2005. It is written from the point of view of an infantry squad leader on the front line.
It is written from SSG Bellavia's point of view.
And that point of view is brutally honest. And it is a brutal, unflinching look at the war.
The book recounts a number of missions Bellavia and his team in Dialya Province but the main focus is his crew's involvement the 2nd Battle for Fallujah in November 2005. A good portion of the book involves telling of the battle for which Bellavia was nominated for the Medal of Honor. He has already received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star (v), and the Conspicuous Service Cross from New York State.
Blackfive said of him "SSG Bellavia is badder than John freakin' Wayne" Michael Ware, who famously (at least to me) embedded with my son's unit during Operation Baton Rouge in Samarra, also embedded with Bellavia's crew, the 3rd Platoon, Alpha Company of Task Force 2-2 of the 1st Infantry Division and recounted his time with them in a piece for Time Magazine called Into the Hot Zone.
SSG Bellavia is a hero, no doubt about it. But this book illustrates that heroes are not men of stone, but of flesh and blood. And Bellavia not only takes the reader on a brutal journey through a dystopian nightmare whose backdrop is a destroyed city whose inhabitants are dedicated Jihadists drugged to the max, but he also takes us on an inward journey of deprivation, dedication, horror and fear. He shows us that heroes act in spite of their fear and self-doubt.
What makes Bellavia and people like him heroes is the very fact that they do what needs be done despite their normal human reaction which is to run far, far away and hide under a rock.
This book is written so harrowingly I had PTSD from just reading it.
He has since left the Army. And in his book he says of that
After I returned home, I witnessed another battle raging on the television over Iraq. From Washington, the rancor and defeatism over the war shocked me. As other veterans of the Global War on Terror started to trickle home, we shared the feelings of the disenfranchised. We who sacrificed were being ignored by the World War II and Vietnam generations now holding seats of power in our government. I joined Wade Zirkle in forming Vet for Freedom, a nonpartisan political action committee dedicated to supporting our troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I want to believe the war is a noble effort, but I fear it may end ignobly.
From the Vets for Freedom website
Vets for Freedom is a nonpartisan organization established by combat veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our mission is to educate the American public about the importance of achieving success in these conflicts by applying our first-hand knowledge to issues of American strategy and tacticsnamely "the surge" in Iraq. We support policymakers from both sides of the aisle who have stood behind our great generation of American warriors on the battlefield, and who have put long-term national security before short-term partisan political gain.
He may have left the Army, but the battle still rages
Click below for the amazing narrative accompanying his nomination for the Medal of Honor