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Mayor Warren Kusumoto presented a commendation certificate from the City of Los Alamitos to Medal of Honor recipient Staff Sgt. David Bellavia at a reception hosted by the Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, July 12, at Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos.

Los Alamitos Mayor Warren Kusumoto and Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia. Courtesy photo.
Los Alamitos Mayor Warren Kusumoto and Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia. Courtesy photo.

Bellavia, the first living Operation Iraqi Freedom Medal of Honor recipient, received the nation’s highest military honor in a ceremony at the White House June 25. He is the sixth servicemember to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq.

From February 2004 to February 2005, Bellavia was stationed in Diyala Province Iraq as a squad leader in the 2nd Battalion, 2nd Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. During that period his unit engaged in multiple battles – including Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah on Nov. 10, 2004, the battle in which he was nominated for the Medal of Honor. He left the Army in August 2005 and wrote a book, “House to House,” that detailed his experiences in Fallujah.

“It was my privilege and honor to recognize and thank a true American hero who is an unabashedly patriotic warfighter,” said Kusumoto. “Staff Sgt. Bellavia’s message of purpose, driven by duty, valor and a deep love of our Nation was inspirational and moving… He embodies the very best of the American spirit and humbly represents the men and women who have sacrificed and served under the Stars and Stripes.”

In addition to the JFTB reception, Bellavia had speaking engagements in Yorba Linda and Los Angeles.

His whirlwind Southern California visit also included a day at Disneyland.

“When I came to L.A. and New York, I thought I was going to have to fight off protesters and whatnot,” Bellavia told KPCC reporter Libby Denkmann at Disneyland. “None of that’s true. I’m just surrounded by kindness and love and people that are appreciative. And everyone is so respectful and so kind.

“I want people to just get rid of all of the stigma and the clichés,” Bellavia continued. “We’re healthy as a country and as a people. We might not agree with who holds what office, but our military is beloved, our citizens are appreciative of our freedoms, and I’m seeing that firsthand across the country.”

This article was released by Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos.