On Monday, February 29, President Barack Obama awarded Navy SEAL Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers, the Medal of Honor. He received the award because of his heroic acts during a mission rescuing an American civilian held hostage by members of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Byers will become the sixth SEAL to receive this honor—the nation’s highest medal for valor in combat.
The Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group, known as SEAL Team Six, planned and executed a rescue mission in eastern Afghanistan to extract Dr. Dilip Joseph, an American citizen. This mission resulted in the death of a member of the team.
During the rescue, the team made its way to the place where Joseph was being held, and was fired upon by the insurgents. Byers ripped down blankets that covered the doorway, which exposed him to gun fire. Upon entry, the leader of the group was hit and the shooter was posed to aim next at Byers. Byers fired upon the shooter and tackled another person who turned out to be another guard of the hideout.
According to CNN, Joseph described the scene as “suddenly filled with men and exploding gunfire. Narrow beams of light shot in every direction. Voices called out his name. Joseph answered, ‘I’m right here.’”
Hearing Joseph answer in English, Byers threw himself onto the hostage to shield the doctor with his own body. When an enemy shooter advanced upon them, Byers pinned the fighter to the wall until his teammates eliminated him.
Capping off his gallant deeds, Byers, a certified paramedic, performed CPR on Petty Officer 1st class Nicolas Checque during the 40-minute flight to Bagram Air Base.
“I’m going to continue being a SEAL and take whatever job or position is next for me.” Byers stated.