Screaming Eagles Through Time
SSgt. Joseph P. Bellavia


Wakefield, Massachusetts
Killed  in action October 16, 2003

SSgt. Joseph Bellavia on his wedding day

Slain soldier remembered for dedication

A US Army soldier who grew up in Wakefield was killed in Iraq Thursday during a firefight with gunmen guarding the headquarters of a Shi'ite cleric.

Staff Sergeant Joseph P. Bellavia, 28, was a military police team leader assigned to the 716th Military Police Battalion from the 101st Airborne Division based in Fort Campbell, Ky. He and two other US soldiers were killed while attempting to negotiate with armed men who had gathered after curfew near a mosque in Karbala in southern Iraq, according to Fort Campbell officials.

The Iraqis opened fire, killing the three soldiers and wounding seven others, Fort Campbell said. By yesterday, 336 US service members have died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq, according to the Department of Defense.

Bellavia's twin brother, Jonathan, reached last night in Hendersonville, Tenn., said his brother "was always gung-ho.

" `I can't' was never in his vocabulary," he said.

A highly motivated soldier and sports fan, Bellavia was inspired by military service from a young age. His father, Joseph F. Bellavia, is a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army, and still lives in Wakefield.

Bellavia's wife of 3 1/2 years, Christine, 31, said her husband, left for Iraq in March and would have returned home next spring. She received news of his death early yesterday."He really loved his job and really loved his fellow soldiers."

Bellavia grew up with his older brother, Christopher, and his twin in Wakefield, where he graduated from high school. After one semester at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, he enlisted in the Army. That was nine years ago, his wife said. He was committed from an early age to serving his country, she said.

The couple met during previous postings at Fort Campbell, from which Bellavia left for Iraq in February 2002. He spent the previous year in Korea.

Bellavia's body will be returned to the United States Oct. 19, his wife said, and he will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. His funeral has not been scheduled.

Reuben Roque, 25, who spent time in Bellavia's Army company, said his friend was excited about going to Iraq.

"There was never a challenge he wouldn't take. He always got his mission accomplished and was always there for his friends and his soldiers," Roque said.

Christine Bellavia, who lives at the couple's home in Clarksville, Tenn., and recently left the Air Force Reserve after serving for eight years, said her husband was a good motivator for his fellow soldiers.

"He was physically fit and kept his soldiers physically fit," she said. "His standard was higher than everyone else's, and he motivated them to be the best that they could be."

Roque said Bellavia always kept moving and liked to play sports, especially softball.

"He loved to keep active," he said. "He almost had too much energy sometimes."

His brother, Christopher, 30, of Portland, Tenn., said Bellavia delighted in playing football and roughhousing with his three nephews.

Christine Bellavia said her husband was an ardent Miami Dolphins fan and a "wonderful dancer."

"Everybody that ever met him loved him," she said. "He was always joking around and made everybody smile. I'm very proud of him. He was my best friend."

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


Family of slain MP has history of service to nation, community

The Hendersonville Star News

HENDERSONVILLE When Jonathan Bellavia walked into the living room Friday morning and saw his sister-in-law Christine there, he knew right away that his family would never be the same.

Christine had just been notified that her husband, Bellavia's twin brother, had been killed in Iraq.

''He said there was a possibility that he might not come back,'' remembers Jonathan Bellavia, a Hendersonville policeman. ''He knew that. We knew there was a possibility, but we still thought we'd see him again. He knew he had a job to do. He loved what he did and he wanted to go.''

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joseph P. Bellavia, a military policeman, was killed Oct. 16 as members of his 716th Military Police Battalion were trying to negotiate with a group of armed men standing on a road outside a mosque in Karbala, Iraq, after curfew. The 716th is part of the 101st Airborne Division.

According to the Army, the Iraqis opened fire on the MPs, killing Joseph Bellavia, Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando and Cpl. Sean R. Grilley and wounding seven other soldiers.

Although Joseph Bellavia was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky., and Jonathan lives in the Hendersonville area, the two hail from Wakefield, Mass.

Their brother Chris, 30, and two years their senior, works for Sumner County's ambulance service and is assistant chief of the Highland Volunteer Fire Department in Portland.

When Joseph was transferred to Fort Campbell, the three brothers took advantage of their proximity to one another, getting together often and ''just goofing around,'' according to Jonathan Bellavia.

''We were like the Three Stooges. There was never a dull moment,'' he added.

Since Joseph's death, Chris and Jonathan have granted several interviews to local media. ''I want to get across to as many people as possible exactly who he was and what he was,'' said Chris Bellavia. ''Nobody pays much attention until something like this happens.''

Chris Bellavia said the two brothers want to take the opportunity they've been given to portray a soldier who loved his job, his wife, his family and his country. ''He wasn't afraid to go over there and give his life,'' Chris Bellavia added. ''He's definitely a hero.''

When asked how the two could return to work so soon after their loss, Jonathan was quick with his response. ''Joe had the world depending on him. He would not want us to let anyone down,'' he said. ''I have the citizens of Hendersonville depending on me, and Chris has the citizens of Portland depending on him.''

They noted how community service and sacrifice runs through their blood. Their grandfather served in the U. S. Navy during World War II, and their father is a retired lieutenant colonel.

''It's in our blood,'' Chris said. ''We enjoy helping other people.'' In accordance with Joseph's wishes, the Bellavia brothers will bury the brother they laughed with, cried with and often competed against at Arlington National Cemetery next month.

Tennessean staff writer Sheila Burke contributed to this story.

Staff Sgt. Bellavia's love for his country led him to Iraq battle

The Hendersonville Star News

HENDERSONVILLE U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Joseph Bellavia was remembered in a memorial service yesterday as someone who loved his country, his fellow soldiers, his wife and family.

''Joseph Bellavia left behind something precious for us our freedom,'' Hendersonville police Chief David Key said at the service at Community Church on West Main Street.

Bellavia, 28, was killed Oct. 16 as members of his unit, the 716th Military Police Battalion, tried to negotiate with armed men outside a mosque in Karbala, Iraq. The Iraqis opened fire on the group.

Lt. Col. Kim S. Orlando of Nashville and Cpl. Sean R. Grilley were also killed. The three were members of the 101st Airborne Division and were stationed at Fort Campbell, on the Tennessee-Kentucky border.

Bellavia was from Wakefield, Mass. His twin brother, Jonathan, is a Hendersonville police officer, and his older brother, Chris, is an emergency medical technician for Sumner County.

''He loved what he did,'' Jonathan Bellavia said. ''He was such a wonderful human being. He loved his country, his soldiers, his wife, and he loved his family.''

''When you think of Joe, you think 'soldier,' '' he said. ''This is hard, and the support each of you has given us, I can't think of how to say thank you.''

The public memorial service was attended by Hendersonville police officers and firefighters, Sumner County ambulance service personnel and members of the 101st Airborne Division, among others.

Hendersonville police chaplain Gary Ferrell referenced a Bible verse, Matthew 5:9: ''Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.''

When he read the verse, ''I thought of these men who gave their utmost on our behalf. I chose to think of these wonderful men as peacemakers ... in a country torn apart by strife,'' he said.

''He loved his country,'' Chris Bellavia said. ''He wasn't afraid to go.''

Command Sgt. Maj. Paul Blackwell from Fort Campbell presented an American flag to Jonathan Bellavia, a bronze medal to Chris Bellavia and a plaque with flowers to Joseph Bellavia's widow, Christine.

Joseph Bellavia will be buried Oct. 31 in Arlington National Cemetery.