Showing very little emotion, a lifetime member of John Franklin Shain VFW Post 2313 Post received the Medal of Honor from U.S. president Barack Obama on Feb. 29 at the White House.
Navy SEAL Edward Byers was presented the medal for his role in rescuing an American doctor in eastern Afghanistan.
An unclassified summary stated that Byers “displayed superior gallantry, extraordinary heroism at grave personal risk” and is “unquestionably deserving of the Medal of Honor.”
The rescue of Dr. Dilip Joseph ended with the doctor successfully being rescued but the loss of a member of Byers teammate, Chief Petty Officer Nicolas Checque. Both were part of the Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group, known as SEAL Team Six.
President Obama highlighted the crucial moments during the rescue of Joseph and the role of SEAL Team Six.
In rescuing Joseph, Byers would throw himself onto the hostage, using his body to shield that of the doctor’s, from bullets.
Byers praised his fallen teammate saying, “If it wasn’t for that team, I wouldn’t be sanding here today. Specifically for me, my teammate, brother, friend, Nic Checque, the award is truly his. He was an American hero. He was the hero of that operation. He was killed during that operation. He died a warrior. He died to bring back another American. I believe our nation owes him a debt of gratitude. He lived his life as a warrior and he carried out the toughest missions selflessly and fearlessly. He made the ultimate sacrifice that day.”
Jospeh, whose life was saved that day in Afghanistan, said he was “thrilled that he is getting this accolade and being honored this way.”
Byers “gave me a second chance at life,” Joseph was quoted as saying.
Obama revealed at the Monday awards that the United States believed a Taliban commander was on his way to move Joseph into Pakistan.
Byers is the 11th living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his service in Afghanistan.
He became a lifetime member of the Hawthorne VFW Post when he was in the area for training exercises. The Ohio native is 36 years of age and joined the Navy in 1998 as a corpsman and has been assigned to various SEAL teams.
Obama concluded, “Even if he had never performed the actions for which he is being recognized here today, Ed Byers would be long remembered for his compassion, his sacrifice and his endurance: 11 overseas deployments, nine combat tours, recipient of the Purple Heart twice, Bronze Star with valor five times.”
To the community of Hawthorne, who welcomes military personnel that come here to train, they become one of our “hometown boys”.