On Monday, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward Byers Jr. was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House for his actions during the rescue of an American civilian in Afghanistan.
When we first told you about the announcement that Byers was set to receive the award, it was clear that there was no more deserving candidate, according to one defense official.
“There’s no margin of doubt or possibility of error in awarding this honor…His actions were so conspicuous in terms of bravery and self-sacrifice that they clearly distinguished him to be worthy of the award, including risk of his own life.”
Byers adds the Medal of Honor to an already astounding list of medals and accolades while in uniform. Here is a brief overview:
- 5 Bronze Stars with combat “V” device
- 2 Purple Hearts
- A Joint Service Commendation with “V”
- 3 Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals – one with “V”
- 2 Combat Action Ribbons.
On December 8th 2012, Byers was sent on a hostage rescue mission to bring back an American hostage alive from the grips of the Taliban. It was a cold night and the mission called for a grueling hike over the mountains before reaching the target house where the hostage was believed to be held.
In a newly released video, Byers tells the tale of what happened that night in his own words. Check it out:
This humble hero was put in for the highest award for valor in the country shortly after the mission and he quickly got approval. However the ceremony had to be rescheduled from the fall due to Byers’ deployment at the time.
Below is the footage of President Obama’s remarks, the reading of the Medal citation, and the awarding of the Medal of Honor to Byers. What is so clear is how humble Byers’ personal account is to his actual actions. What an amazing man.
Following the ceremony, Byers stepped outside to give a statement to reporters in which he thanked Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Nicolas Checque, the point man of the mission and a friend who was shot and killed in the early moments of the raid.
Here is the full text of Byers’ citation:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Hostage Rescue Force Team Member in Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM from 8 to 9 December 2012. As the rescue force approached the target building, an enemy sentry detected them and darted inside to alert his fellow captors. The sentry quickly reemerged, and the lead assaulter attempted to neutralize him. Chief Byers with his team sprinted to the door of the target building. As the primary breacher, Chief Byers stood in the doorway fully exposed to enemy fire while ripping down six layers of heavy blankets fastened to the inside ceiling and walls to clear a path for the rescue force. The first assaulter pushed his way through the blankets, and was mortally wounded by enemy small arms fire from within. Chief Byers, completely aware of the imminent threat, fearlessly rushed into the room and engaged an enemy guard aiming an AK-47 at him. He then tackled another adult male who had darted towards the corner of the room. During the ensuing hand-to-hand struggle, Chief Byers confirmed the man was not the hostage and engaged him. As other rescue team members called out to the hostage, Chief Byers heard a voice respond in English and raced toward it. He jumped atop the American hostage and shielded him from the high volume of fire within the small room. While covering the hostage with his body, Chief Byers immobilized another guard with his bare hands, and restrained the guard until a teammate could eliminate him. His bold and decisive actions under fire saved the lives of the hostage and several of his teammates. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of near certain death, Chief Petty Officer Byers reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
What is the most incredible Medal of Honor story you’ve heard? Sound off in the comments below!