Medal of Honor to be awarded to a Navy Seal who helped rescue an American hostage in Afghanistan.
According to an AP story, senior Navy chief, Edward Byers will have the distinction of being one of the 11 living service members to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan.
Since Byers’ actions were carried out as special operations the White House did not go into extensive detail about his act of valor due to its classified nature.
The official release from the White House stated that the 36 year old Byers was part of a team that rescued a civilian hostage on December 8-9, 2012 in Afghanistan.
According to an unclassified statement from Defense Department officials, Byers was part of the rescue of Dr. Dilip Joseph, who was abducted along with his driver and Afghan interpreter three days earlier.
Joseph wrote a book about his ordeal involving being held captive in a one-room building in a remote location in the Langham Province in the eastern part of Afghanistan. The team that rescued him had to traverse four hours across mountainous terrain to reach the compound where Joseph was detained.
Within the released, unclassified summary, it reported that a guard spotted the team arriving 25 meters before the building. Byers was the second member of the rescue team to arrive at the entryway. The first team member pushed his way through the doorway and was shot immediately. Byers entered the building and engaged an armed guard.
Once Byers made his way into the building he heard voice speaking in English and sprang into action. The summary stated, “ he immediately leaped across the room and selflessly flung his body on top of the American hostage, shielding him from the continued rounds being fired across the room.”
“Almost simultaneously, Chief Byers identified an additional enemy fighter directly behind Dr. Joseph. While covering the hostage with his body, Chief Byers was able to pin the enemy combatant to the wall with his hand around the enemy’s throat,” the statement added. Byers restrained the man until another SEAL was able to shot him dead.
“Once the doctor was moved to a helicopter landing zone, Byers, a certified paramedic, assisted in providing medical aid to his wounded colleague, who died of his wounds.” The dead SEAL has previously been identified as Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pa.
The summary said that Byers displayed “extraordinary heroism at grave personal risk, dedication to his teammates, and calm tactical leadership while liberating Dr. Dilip Joseph from captivity. He is unquestionably deserving of the Medal of Honor.”
According to the White house, Byers had been on various other SEAL teams during his time with the Navy. The list of his awards and accomplishments is exemplary. The list includes five different awards of the Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts. Now he will have a deserved Medal of Honor to add to his list of prestigious accommodations.
Byers is from the small town of Tontogany,OH. He enlisted in the Navy a year after graduating high school and has completed eight overseas deployments and seven combat tours.
Byers will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in strategic studies and defense analysis from Norwich University in Vermont this year.