David Bellavia: ‘Orleans County is so worth it’

Photos by Tom Rivers: David Bellavia, a Medal of Honor recipient, speaks during the Orleans County Republican Fall Rally on Thursday at Tillman’s Village Inn. About 225 people attended the dinner.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 October 2019 at 9:53 am

Medal of Honor winner addresses Orleans County GOP

David Bellavia is pictured with Ed Morgan, who served as chairman of the Orleans County Republican Party for 12 years. Thursday’s dinner was dedicated to Morgan.

GAINES – A few years before he was deployed to Iraq, David Bellavia played for the Lyndonville varsity soccer and basketball teams. They faced tough local opponents from Holley and Kendall.

Bellavia, in a speech to the Orleans County Republican Party on Thursday, joked those sporting contests prepared him for the U.S. Army.

“The sports programs from Holley and Kendall got me ready for combat,” Bellavia told about 225 people during the fall rally for the Orleans County GOP.

Bellavia, 44, addressed the group, and passed on a chance to be in Tampa, Fla., during the annual convention of Medal of Honor recipients. Bellavia said he stayed in Orleans for the fall rally to help honor Ed Morgan, he served the local Republican Party for 12 years as chairman before retiring in February.

Thursday’s dinner was dedicated to Morgan, who is also the Murray highway superintendent. He is active with the Fancher-Hulberton-Murray Fire Company, Orleans County Soil & Water and other community organizations.

Bellavia said Morgan has been a mentor. Bellavia wanted him at the White House on June 25 when Bellavia was presented the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump. Bellavia also invited Charlie Nesbitt, the former state assemblyman and a decorated pilot during the Vietnam War.

David Bellavia signs a copy of his book, House to House: An Epic Memoir of War. The book detailed his experiences as a staff sergeant in Fallujah and describes the efforts of front line forces in urban combat against insurgents. In back from left are Bill Basinait, Pat Eick and Bill Eick.

During his speech to the local Republicans, Bellavia said the county looks out for each other. He is grateful to Nesbitt. When Bellavia came home from war in 2005, Nesbitt was one of the first to meet with him. They have remained close friends.

David Bellavia lets Aedan Bunch, 16, of Medina hold Bellavia’s Medal of Honor.

Bellavia said the love for one’s community is what inspires many soldiers to risk their lives in fight in war zones.

He thanked the local officials for working to better Orleans, and push for jobs and opportunities so younger families can come back and stay in their hometowns.

Bellavia not only played sports at Lyndonville, but was involved in the music program and performed in the school musicals. The small-school atmosphere means students get lots of attention from teachers and administrators.

“Lyndonville offered me the opportunity to play music, play sports and take by studies seriously,” Bellavia said. “We have well-rounded people here.”

He mixed in many jokes during his speech, including when he saw Russ Martino in the crowd. Martino is a retired principal at Lyndonville who would later serve as the Yates town supervisor.

“I feared him more than Al-Qaeda,” Bellavia said.

Martino cared for the students and Bellavia said, “I didn’t want to disappoint him.”

He shared about how many people have thanked him for his military service. One veteran told him to respond to that by saying, “You’re worth it.”

Now, Bellavia often gives that reply.

“Orleans County is so worth it,” he said.

More than 200 people attended the dinner for Bellavia’s speech at Tillman’s Village Inn.

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