Yesterday, President Obama presented Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers with our nation's highest military decoration, the Medal of Honor. Senior Chief Byers is the 11th living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan.
After the President's remarks at the White House, Senior Chief Byers shared his reactions:
Watch U.S. Navy SEAL Senior Chief Edward Byers share his reactions after receiving the #MedalOfHonor today at the White House.Posted by The White House on Monday, February 29, 2016
Senior Chief Byers was recognized for his courageous acts during his time as a Hostage Rescue Force Team Member in Afghanistan. The President described the events of that night:
"Fully aware of the danger, Ed moved in next. An enemy guard aimed his rifle right at him. Ed fired. Someone moved across the floor ... Hearing English, Ed leapt across the room and threw himself on the hostage, using his own body to shield him from the bullets. Another enemy fighter appeared, and with his body, Ed kept shielding the hostage. With his bare hands, Ed pinned the fighter to the wall and held him until his teammates took action. It was over almost as soon as it began. In just minutes, by going after those guards, Ed saved the lives of several teammates -- and that hostage. You’re safe, the SEALs told the doctor, you are with American forces. And that hostage came home to be reunited with his wife and his children."
"Today, we don’t simply honor a single individual. We also pay tribute to a community across our entire military -- special operators, aviators, engineers, technicians, analysts, countless enablers, and their devoted families. In these hard years since 9/11, our nation has called on this community like never before. Small in number, they have borne an extraordinarily heavy load. But they continue to volunteer, mission after mission, year after year. Few Americans ever see it."President Obama
The President recognized Senior Chief Byers for his compassion, his sacrifice, and his endurance. He has done eleven overseas deployments and nine combat tours and has been awarded the Purple Heart -- twice and the Bronze Star with valor -- five times.
The President also honored Chief Petty Officer Nicolas Checque, who was fatally wounded during the mission. From Monroeville, Pennsylvania, Checque was remembered as the driven kid -- the football player and wrestler who always wanted to be a SEAL. For his valor on this mission, he was awarded the Navy Cross.