Bellavia's Medal of Honor guests laud former staff sergeant

Chad Ellis, a fellow soldier in Bellavia's platoon, speaks on WBEN

Mike Baggerman
June 26, 2019 - 6:29 am
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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WBEN) - Tuesday's Medal of Honor ceremony in the White House was not just emotional for David Bellavia and his family and friends, but also for soldiers who were in attendance.

Thirty-two Iraq War soldiers were in attendance, including about a dozen who served with Bellavia in Iraq.

"If you were to ask me 14 years ago if any of us were coming home, I'd say I don't know," Chad Ellis, who fought alongside Bellavia from 2000 to 2005, said. "If you were going to ask me the same question about going to the White House and this whole thing is going to happen, I'd say not in a million years. For us to be here for Bellavia is huge. It's more of an honor for us than I think most people will understand."

Though Bellavia and Ellis have stayed in touch over the last 14 years, the weekend celebration in Washington was the first time the two saw each other in more than 14 years.

"It was one of those moments where you get that lump in your throat," Ellis said about meeting Bellavia for the first time since fighting in Iraq. "But you're around so many people so you want to suck it up and be the tough guy. It was really hard. It was an emotional thing to see him again."

Ellis said Bellavia hasn't changed a bit and called him the same joker as he was. However, he noted that the Medal of Honor means he will likely have to be more serious.

"Luckily Dave's mature enough," Troy Steward, a veteran and friend of Bellavia's from the Buffalo area, said. "He's able to understand what this means...He realizes what the medal means and now has to represent Gold Star families, his buddies, and soldiers in the U.S. Army in general."

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