Bellavia, David 1975- (David Gregory Bellavia)

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Bellavia, David 1975- (David Gregory Bellavia)

PERSONAL:

Born November 19, 1975, in Buffalo, NY; married Deanna King (a television news reporter); children: two.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Batavia, NY. Office—Vets for Freedom, 1200 Eton Ct. N.W., Ste. 300, Washington, DC 20007. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Vets for Freedom, cofounder. Imbedded reporter in Iraq, 2006; candidate for Congress, 2008. Military service: U.S. Army, 1999-2005; served in infantry in Iraq, 2004-05; became staff sergeant; received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Conspicuous Service Cross.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Inductee, New York State Veterans Hall of Fame, 2005.

WRITINGS:

(With John Bruning) House to House: An Epic Memoir of War, Free Press (New York, NY), 2007.

SIDELIGHTS:

David Bellavia is a decorated veteran of the Iraq War who served with the U.S. Army during the fighting in the city of Fallujah in late 2004. An Army staff sergeant, Bellavia served with the First Infantry Division, Task Force 2-2, for six years. Michael Ware, writing in Time Canada, featured Bellavia and his men in a story about the battle of Fallujah, describing the staff sergeant as "a wiry 29-year-old who resembles Sean Penn" and who, "during lulls in the fighting, … could discuss the Renaissance and East European politics." Ware went on to describe the kind of fighting Bellavia and his men were involved in: not a huge clash of armies, but instead, "for men like the soldiers of Alpha Company's 3rd Platoon, part of Task Force 2-2, the fight was far more intense, chaotic and harrowing. The Americans battled armed insurgents not just street to street or even house to house, but also up close and personal with their enemy, fighting him room to room at point-blank range." For his personal acts of heroism during the battle for Fallujah, Bellavia was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star. The State Senate of New York later inducted him into the Veterans Hall of Fame, noting on its Web site that on the evening of November 10, 2004, when his platoon was under direct fire from insurgents, "Bellavia engaged and destroyed five enemy combatants, alleviating the clear and present danger they posed to members of his platoon. Later in the battle, with ammunition scarce, Mr. Bellavia again distinguished himself by leading his men to victory in close hand-to-hand combat."

Bellavia returned to the United States a well-publicized hero. He thereafter helped cofound a prowar advocacy group called Vets for Freedom. Though the group claims to be nonpartisan, it has been criticized for being funded by the Republican Party and for having direct ties to the White House. In June of 2006, Bellavia returned to Iraq, but this time as an imbedded journalist for the Weekly Standard. Following this reportorial mission, Bellavia set to writing, with the help of author John Bruning, a memoir of his actions in the battle of Fallujah.

The resulting book, House to House: An Epic Memoir of War, pulls few punches regarding the vicissitudes and mistakes of warfare. He begins the memoir before his Alpha Company is deployed to Fallujah. They are still pulling night detail in Diyala Province, and on November 2, 2004, their mission is to find and destroy Ayub Ali, a "terror-for-hire arms broker," as Bellavia describes the man. Bellavia puts the reader into the middle of not-so-glamorous action as he and his men attempt to approach the Ali compound, located on an old horse ranch outside of Muqdadiyah, by a most unusual route: "By the light of a full moon, we wade through chest-high sewage. We inch along, arms above our heads to hold our weapons out of the muck. The sludge that bathes us is exquisitely rank. Gnats swarm. Mosquitoes feast and flies crawl. If my first day in the army had been like this, I'd have gone AWOL." In the end, their mission is compromised by command miscommunication: a couple of low-flying Blackhawk helicopters warns those in the compound. Bellavia writes: "We hike the four kilometers back to our Brads without a word between us. This had been a perfect op until it was ruined by miscommunication with a pair of helo pilots. Stinking, frustrated, and ill-tempered, we mount up into our vehicles. We know this was our last shot at finding Ali. This mission is our swan song in the province."

The company then goes to Fallujah, where it experiences some of the toughest fighting in the Iraq War, closely described by the author in House to House. Critical attention was largely positive for this debut book. An Internet Bookwatch critic found it "a gripping battlefield memoir," and one that "also provides the reader with analytical insights into the fanaticism and character of the insurgent opposition." Similarly, a contributor to Kirkus Reviews wrote: "The frantic, present-tense narrative abounds with scenes and dialogue that make this account of battle read like a realistic war novel." A Publishers Weekly writer was less impressed, however, concluding that "this detailed battle description will fascinate enthusiasts and bore everyone else." Meanwhile, praise came from Washington Monthly reviewer Clint Douglas, who thought House to House was "a remarkable story told by a genuine hero." And Robert G. Longino, writing in the U.S. Naval Proceedings, termed the work "a powerful book that is a must-read for military professionals." Longino further noted: "It should also be required reading for those who send America's sons and daughters into combat."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Bellavia, David, House to House: An Epic Memoir of War, Free Press (New York, NY), 2007.

PERIODICALS

Human Events, September 24, 2007, James C. Roberts, review of House to House, p. 19.

Internet Bookwatch, September 1, 2007, review of House to House.

Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2007, review of House to House.

Military History, January-February, 2008, Peter Tsouras, review of House to House, p. 70.

Publishers Weekly, July 23, 2007, review of House to House, p. 61.

Time Canada, November 22, 2004, Michael Ware, "Into the Hot Zone."

U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, November, 2007, Robert G. Longino, review of House to House, p. 88.

Washington Monthly, September 1, 2007, Clint Douglas, "A Knife under the Collarbone: Most Soldiers in Iraq Battle Faceless IEDs, but in Fallujah, the Fighting Was Hand to Hand," p. 55.

ONLINE

David Bellavia MySpace Page,http://www.myspace.com/housetohousedavidbellavia (April 13, 2008).

Hooked on Books,http://www.hookedonbooks.com/ (June 29, 2007), review of House to House.

House to House Web site,http://www.davidbellavia.com (April 13, 2008).

Media Channel,http://www.mediachannel.org/ (July 18, 2007), "Bush's Pro-War Front Group, ‘Vets for Freedom,’ Rallies with Republican Senators."

My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy,http://bamapachyderm.com/ (June 19, 2006), "Vets for Freedom: Back to Iraq."

New York State Senate Web site,http://www.senate.state.ny.us/ (April 13, 2008), brief author biography.

Vets for Freedom Web site,http://www.vetsforfreedom.org/ (April 13, 2008), author profile.

WHEC Online,http://www.whec.com/ (March 27, 2008), "David Bellavia Leaves National Heroes Tour to Focus on Run for Congress"; (April 13, 2008), "Local War Hero Will Run for Congress."