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Edward Byers
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward C. Byers Jr. will be awarded the Medal of Honor. (24646290034).jpg
Born 4 August 1979(1979-08-04) (age 40)
Place of birth Toledo, Ohio
Allegiance United States
Service/branch Flag of the United States Navy.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1998 – present
Rank SCPO collar (E-8)
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator
Unit Naval Special Warfare Development Group/SEAL Team Six
Battles/wars War in Afghanistan
Iraq War
Awards Medal of Honor
Bronze Star (4)
Purple Heart (2)
Joint Service Commendation Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3)

Edward Carl Byers Jr. (born August 4, 1979) is a United States Navy SEAL who received the Medal of Honor on February 29, 2016 for the rescue of a civilian in Afghanistan in 2012.

Personal lifeEdit

Born in Toledo, Ohio, Byers graduated from Otsego High School in Tontogany, Ohio in 1997.

CareerEdit

Byers enlisted in the United States Navy in September 1998 and went on to serve as a hospital corpsman. Byers first served at Great Lakes Naval Hospital and was later attached to 2nd Battalion 2nd Marines in 1999 and deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard USS Austin (LPD-4).[1] He attended Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training in 2002 and graduated with Class 242. In 2003, Byers attended the Special Operations Combat Medic course. He was assigned to his first SEAL team in May 2004. In 2011 Chief Byers joined the Naval Special Warfare Development Group, commonly known as SEAL Team Six, he served 11 overseas deployments including nine combat tours, fighting multiple times in Iraq and Afghanistan.[2][3]

Medal of Honor actionEdit

On December 5, 2012, American doctor Dilip Joseph was captured, along with two Afghans, by the Taliban while driving back to their base in Kabul.[4] Byers's team was selected by Marine General John Allen, who was the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan at the time to launch a rescue mission. The U.S. military had gathered intelligence on where Dr. Joseph was being held and the commanders were concerned that if they did not rescue the hostages quickly that they would be moved to a new hideout and/or killed as early as 9 December 2012.[1][3]

On the night of December 8, 2012, Byers' unit was inserted by helicopter in Qarghah’i District of Laghman Province, eastern Afghanistan, from there they hiked over difficult terrain for more than four hours to reach the compound that the Taliban were holding the hostages at. Despite being under the cover of night, an armed guard spotted the SEALs within roughly 75 feet of the compound, Petty Officer 1st class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, from Monroeville, Pennsylvania, sprinted forward, killed the guard and entered the compound, with Byers just steps behind.[2]

Inside of the compound, Checque, who was the point man, was shot by a Taliban fighter from inside the single room holding the hostages. Undeterred, Byers burst into the room, shooting dead an armed Taliban fighter. Byers tackled and straddled another insurgent who was scrambling to the corner of the room to get a rifle. Byers adjusted his night vision goggles to see whether he was the American hostage; then when Dr. Joseph called out to Byers, Byers killed the insurgent he was straddling and then hurled himself on top of Joseph to protect him from harm. At the same time, Byers pinned another Taliban militant to the wall with a hand to the throat until another SEAL shot the militant.[3]

Once outside, Byers, the unit's medic, turned his attention to Checque, spending the 40-minute flight back to Bagram Airfield, trying to resuscitate him, but Checque was declared dead at the American base. Checque was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for his actions.[2][3][5]

CitationEdit

Currently, his Medal of Honor citation only states "his courageous actions while serving as part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan, December 8–9, 2012."[6]

Byers received the Medal of Honor on February 29, 2016. He is believed to be the first member of SEAL Team Six to receive the award, however, Defense officials declined to confirm, but they did confirm that he is the first living SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. He is also the sixth Navy SEAL in history to receive the award as well as one of only eight living Navy Medal of Honor recipients out of 78 and the 14th serviceman to receive the award for actions in Afghanistan.[2][3]

Later lifeEdit

Byers is still an active member of the Seal Team Six and was promoted to the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer in January 2016. Byers is a licensed paramedic and will graduate from Norwich University with a Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis in early 2016.[7] He also has a wife and an 11-year-old daughter.[3]

Awards and decorationsEdit

US Navy SEALs insignia
Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Bronze Star ribbon.svgValor deviceAward star (gold)Award star (gold)Award star (gold)
Gold star
Purple Heart BAR.svg
V
Joint Service Commendation ribbon.svg
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation ribbon.svgValor deviceAward star (gold)Award star (gold) Combat Action Ribbon.svgAward star (gold)Award star (gold)
United States Navy Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.svgBronze-service-star-3dBronze-service-star-3d
Bronze oakleaf-3d
Joint Meritorious Unit Award ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Navy Unit Commendation ribbon.svg
Battle-e-ribbon.png Navy Good Conduct ribbon.svgBronze-service-star-3dBronze-service-star-3dBronze-service-star-3dBronze-service-star-3d Fleet Marine Force Ribbon.svg
National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg Afghanistan Campaign ribbon.svgBronze-service-star-3dBronze-service-star-3dBronze-service-star-3d Iraq Campaign ribbon.svgBronze-service-star-3dBronze-service-star-3d
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Sea Service Deployment Ribbon.svg
NATO Medal ISAF ribbon bar.svg USN Expert Rifle Ribbon.png USN Expert Pistol Shot Ribbon.png
United States Navy Parachutist Badge
Special Warfare insignia
Medal of Honor Bronze Star w/ Valor device and three gold 5/16 inch award stars Purple Heart with one 5/16 inch award star
Joint Service Commendation Medal w/ Valor device Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal w/ Valor device and two 5/16 inch award stars (one award for Combat Valor) Combat Action Ribbon w/ two 5/16 inch award stars
Presidential Unit Citation with two bronze 3/16 service stars Joint Meritorious Unit Award with one bronze oak leaf cluster Navy Unit Commendation with one 3/16 service star
Battle "E" award Navy Good Conduct Medal with four 3/16 service stars Fleet Marine Force Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three 3/16 service stars Iraq Campaign Medal with two 3/16 service stars
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with 1 silver and 2 bronze 3/16 service stars
NATO Medal (ISAF) Navy Rifle Marksmanship Medal Navy Pistol Marksmanship Medal
Naval Parachutist Badge

While deployed with the 26th MEU, he earned the USN - Surface Warfare Enlisted Surface Warfare Enlisted badge and the Fleet Marine Force Enlisted Warfare Specialist Device Fleet Marine Force Enlisted Warfare Specialist device.[1]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL)Edward C. Byers Jr., USN". Navy.mil. http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/moh/byers.html. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Navy SEAL, to receive Medal of Honor Monday, tells his story". Stars and Stripes. 26 February 2016. http://www.stripes.com/news/navy/navy-seal-to-receive-medal-of-honor-monday-tells-his-story-1.396290. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "A SEAL Team 6 member must step out of the shadows to receive the Medal of Honor". Washington Post. 28 February 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/02/28/a-seal-team-6-member-must-step-out-of-the-shadows-to-receive-the-medal-of-honor/. 
  4. "Former hostage recalls Taliban "morality"". cbs news. 15 October 2014. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/man-captured-by-terrorist-group-taliban-dilip-joseph-survived-to-tell-his-tale/. 
  5. "Nicolas Checque: Soldier whose death raised awkward questions". the independent. 1 January 2013. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/nicolas-checque-soldier-whose-death-raised-awkward-questions-8434226.html. 
  6. "Navy SEAL to receive Medal of Honor for U.S. civilian rescue in Afghanistan". Navy times. 3 February 2016. http://www.navytimes.com/story/military/2016/02/02/navy-seal-receive-medal-honor-us-civilian-rescue-afghanistan/79706520/. 
  7. "President Obama to Award the Medal of Honor". whitehouse.gov. 1979-08-04. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/02/02/president-obama-award-medal-honor. Retrieved 2016-02-04. 

External linksEdit

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