Navy SEAL Edward C. Byers Jr. received an award for his role in a hostage rescue mission deep in the heart of Afghanistan. According to reports, senior chief special warfare operator Byers received the nation’s highest military medal and he is the sixth Navy SEAL in history to be awarded with that Honor.
Byers was presented with the Medal of Honor on Monday morning at the White House by President Barack Obama. Just before he was presented with the medal, President Obama introduced Byers, calling him a “special breed of warrior that so often serves in the shadows.”
Navy SEAL Team 6 was called to rescue American hostage Dr. Dilip Joseph, the executive director of Morningstar Development, an organization that was responsible for building and establishing hospitals in rural Afghanistan. Joseph was taken hostage by the Taliban insurgents and held for five days before the operation.
Recounting the events of Dec 9th 2012, Byers said, “We had a four or five hour hike through some pretty arduous terrain.” The senior chief petty officer, 36 used himself to shield the hostage Dr. Joseph during a barrage of gunfire between his team members and the Taliban militants.
“I engaged the person I was on top of and I jumped on the American hostage, and I did that because we’re wearing body armor and you want to protect them from any other potential dangers,” Byers explained. “Now we’re laying down on the ground and once I did that, there was another person, another enemy that was in the corner, just within arms’ reach of me, so I was able to pin him by the throat. And hold him there until our team was able to come in and take care of that threat.”
“Ed is defined by a deep sense of humility, he doesn’t seek the spotlight, in fact he shuns it. He’s the consummate quiet professional,” Obama said during the White House ceremony. “Today’s ceremony is truly unique — a rare opportunity for the American people to get a glimpse of a special breed of warrior that so often serves in the shadows.”
Also honored was deceased Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, a Norwin High School graduate who was killed during the operation. The president noted that he is among 55 SEALs to make the ultimate sacrifice since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
According to The Washington Post, the 36-year-old Ohio native who has a Catholic background said he is devoted to St Michael the Archangel, and that for years he has prayed to St Michael the Archangel, drawing strength from the saint drawing strength from St Micheal’s mighty power especially in his battle against the forces of darkness and enemies of combat. He said he has always worn St Michael the Archangel patch “on his back during his career of serving in combat.
“Every single mission I’ve ever done, I’ve always said a prayer to St Michael to protect and watch over us,” he added.