Sunday, March 06, 2016

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

Medal of Honor recipient stories in brief, as excerpted from three publications: Navy Chief Edward Carl Byers, Jr. bold and decisive actions of undaunted courage...

Edited and compiled by Peter Menkin

In 2011, Navy Senior Chief Edward 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.

Medal of Honor Citation for Navy Senior Chief Edward Byers, Jr.
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.[7]

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From USA Today:

Dilip Joseph was the medical director for a faith-based Colorado non-profit group establishing medical clinics in remote parts of Afghanistan when he was captured for ransom with his driver and translator. Four days later, having information that Joseph might be moved to Pakistan, U.S. commanders organized a rescue team, according to an unclassified summary of the mission obtained by USA TODAY.
Byers and the team walked four hours through the Afghan mountains to reach the Taliban compound, arriving shortly after midnight Dec. 9, 2012. Their mission relied on surprise
Dilip Joseph was rescued by a group
 of Navy SEAL Team 6 operators
 in Afghanistan after being
 held hostage
 by Taliban militants.
 (Photo: Leslye Davis, ZUMA Press/Corbis)
and speed, and everyone on the team volunteered for the mission. "Trading personal security for speed of action was inherent to the success of this rescue mission," a Navy report said.
Inside, the hostage — going into his fifth day of captivity  — heard dogs barking and sheep bleating outside the small stone-and-mud shack....

...The mission has been controversial. In a report on SEAL Team Six last year, The New York Times highlighted discrepancies between Joseph's recollection and the official account. Joseph said that after the shooting stopped, he saw one of the Taliban fighters — a 19-year-old he called Wallakah, whom he had tried to bond with during his captivity — alive, unhurt and apparently subdued. When he returned inside to wait for the helicopter, Wallakah was dead. The Pentagon has disputed that account....

From The Washington Post
...Byers burst in anyway, shooting a Taliban fighter who had an automatic rifle aimed at him. Another man scrambled to the corner of the room
High school yearbook
 photo of Edward Byers,
 a 1997 graduate of Otsego
 High School in Tontogany, Ohio.

 (Photo: Otsego High School)
where another rifle was stored, so Byers tackled him and then tried to adjust his night-vision goggles to see whether he was the American hostage. The hostage, lying five feet away, called out in English, so Byers killed the insurgent he was straddling and then hurled himself on top of the hostage to protect him from gunfire. At the same time, Byers pinned another enemy fighter to the wall with a hand to the throat until another SEAL shot the militant...

President Obama presents the Medal of Honor to Navy Senior Chief Edward C. Byers Jr., for his actions while serving as part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan. (The White House)

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