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Trump awards Medal of Honor to first living Iraq War recipient
President Trump on Tuesday awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor to Staff Sgt. David Bellavia, making him the first living Iraq War veteran to receive the recognition.
Bellavia received the nation's highest military honor for his actions on Nov. 10, 2004, when he cleared out a block of houses in Fallujah, laid down cover fire and engaged multiple insurgents, saving numerous fellow U.S. soldiers in the process.
Trump praised Bellavia's "exceptional courage" during what was one of the bloodiest operations of the Iraq War. The third day of the battle - Nov. 10, 2004 - was Bellavia's 29th birthday, Trump noted.
"America is blessed with the heroes and great people like Staff Sgt. Bellavia, whose intrepid spirit and unwavering resolve defeats our enemies, protects our freedoms and defends our great American flag," Trump said.
Thirty-two service members who fought with Bellavia in Iraq, including 12 who were part of his unit in November 2004, also attended Tuesday's ceremony. Five Gold Star families whose children served with Bellavia and were killed were also recognized.
Five other servicemen have received the Medal of Honor for their actions during the Iraq War. Each was honored posthumously.
Trump initially supported the Iraq War but later became critical of the conflict. Since launching his presidential campaign he has described it as the "worst single mistake" in U.S. history.