VG Bookshelf: “House To House” By MOH Recipient David Bellavia

VG Bookshelf: “House To House” By MOH Recipient David Bellavia

VG Bookshelf: “House To House” By MOH Recipient David Bellavia

David Bellavia’s book, “House To House: A Soldier’s Memoir” is a must read. In this book he bluntly recounts the battles he and his soldiers faced in Iraq in 2004. “House to House” is a brutally honest read.

From the introduction (Apple Books):

“Dust cakes our faces, invades our sinuses, and stings our eyes. The heat bakes the moisture from us with utter relentlessness. Our body temperatures hover at a hundred and three. Our ears ring. On the edge of heat exhaustion, we get dizzy as our stomachs heave.

We have the spastic shits, with stabs of pain as our guts liquefy thanks to the menagerie of local bacteria. Inside our base’s filthy outhouses, swarms of flies crawl over us. Without ventilation, those outhouses are furnaces, pungent with the acrid smell of well-cooked urine.

All this, and we get shot at, too”

What David Bellavia describes is the harsh reality of what our soldiers faced in Iraq. Many times they didn’t know who was friend or foe. Many times they had to decide to NOT pull the trigger when they saw a child signaling to insurgents, even as they knew it could mean a fire fight down the road or an RPG winging it’s way towards them. Many times they encountered women and children shot and left for dead as the insurgents had used their homes as a staging area.

In Chapter Two he describes encounters with reporters and the utterly ludicrous questions they had to deal with. (p. 165)

““How would you describe combat to average Americans back home?”

“Combat? You ever play paintball, sir?” I ask him with complete seriousness.

“No, but I am aware of the sport.”

“Tell America that combat is like paintball. With the exception that the enemy is motivated by fanatical devotion and uses bullets as they attempt to kill you. But basically it’s the same thing.”

“Make sure you get that ‘killing with bullets’ part,” Fitts adds.”

Is it any wonder that Bellavia wasn’t a fan of Michael Ware at first? I mean seriously. Following up that idiotic question by asking if they fly helicopters into battle? What Ware had going for him was the fact that he wasn’t parading around in Banana Republic wanna-be desert clothing and they chowed down just like all the soldiers did. Eat like the food is going to disappear in a hot second.

His accounts of the battles they fought, the ones won and the ones lost grab at you and don’t let go. It’s very clear that, against overwhelming odds, our soldiers in Iraq prevailed. Yet they also dealt with and still deal with questions – some that will never be answered. They still deal with, as David points out early in his book, that feelings of unworthiness and disdain for themselves.

David Bellavia wasn’t always the soldier and man we are getting to know. In fact, at age 23 he was living in his parent’s basement and was unable to defend his parents from getting robbed by crack heads because of cowardice, timidity, and lack of weapons knowledge. (p. 181-188)

This honest recount also shows how far David had come since that day. Yet he is still human, he hurts, and he wonders where God is.

““I am a Christian, but my time in Iraq has convinced me that God doesn’t want to hear from me anymore. I’ve done things that even He can never forgive. I’ve done them consciously; I’ve made decisions I must live with for years to come. I am not a victim. In each instance, I heard my conscience call for restraint. I told it to shut up and let me handle my business.

All the sins I’ve committed, I’ve done them with one objective: to keep my men alive. Those kids in my squad, those kids of mine, they are everything.””

During the ceremony yesterday, a very special moment happened. All of his men came up on the stage after the Medal was presented. Watch closely starting at 28:00 in.

He brought ALL of his men up on the stage, and what did he keep doing? Stepping aside so they could be recognized. THAT ladies and gentlemen is a leader of men. A leader who, along with his men, endured a battle like few others. A leader who regards his soldiers as his own.

“This is our war: we can’t shoot at every target, we can’t always tell who is a target; but we look out for one another and we don’t mind doing the nation’s dirty work. Air Force pilots and Army majors expert in Microsoft PowerPoint have a perfectly clean view of it. We won’t get support if it makes a mess.

Bring it.

We’re the infantry.

War’s a bitch, wear a helmet.”

David Bellavia learned a great deal from his time in Iraq and beyond. The lessons we can learn from David and the soldiers he fought with are incalculable.

“I reluctantly, humbly will put this award on. I will show every person, all enemies of this great nation, that I am one of millions of brave Americans who will not allow politics and policy to supersede American valor.

We did our duty. We fought and destroyed the enemy. Attention will be paid to that sacrifice. Those we lost we mourn every day. America will not cease to be by any individual we elect as president. America will never crumble because of the party that holds Congress. No federal judge can destroy what this country stands for. These are but temporary tempests in a continuum that began in the fires of the American Revolution. We will evolve, grow stronger, and take pride in all the good our country does.”

Buy this book, read it from cover to cover, and then read it again. And then give thanks for all the men we learn about from David Bellavia. We are a nation made better because of men such as they.

Feature Photo Credit: Victory Girls Artwork and Cover photograph © Stefan Zaklin/epa/Cor via Simon & Schuster

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3 Comments
  • Kevin C says:

    Thank you, Nina.

  • GWB says:

    Watch closely starting at 28:00 in.
    That’s 18:00 in. 🙂

    And I agree with his statement about America. A president, the Senate, the House, the SCOTUS – they can’t ruin this nation.
    Only its people can – by failing to zealously, jealously guard our real rights and the Republic we built. Only by forgetting our history and our moral underpinnings will our nation crumble.
    Men like SSgt Bellavia give me hope we can remind the rest of America of who they are and who they should – and can – be, and thereby preserve this great Republic for another generation.

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