Navy SEAL Edward C. Byers Jr is the very definition of a hero. He isn’t a celebrity, but he certainly deserves to be. This morning he became the sixth member of the Navy SEALs to receive the Medal of Honor for his courage and action during a daring hostage rescue in Afghanistan’s Laghman Province.
Byers became a SEAL in 2003. In December 2012, he helped rescue an American medical doctor being held hostage by Taliban insurgents. Byers was the second person to enter a room full of armed Taliban during the rescue of Dr. Dilip Joseph. Another member on his team, US Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Checque, died in the mission after succumbing to heavy enemy AK-47 fire
Byers went full badass beast mode in combat, successfully engaging and eliminating multiple enemy combatants via hand-to-hand combat. He eliminated one enemy with one hand while focusing his night vision goggles, then later pinned another enemy up his throat.
Chuck Norris literally has nothing on Edward C. Byers, American hero.
Dr. Dilip Joseph is an American citizen, who was abducted with his driver and Afghan interpreter on 5 December 2012. Intelligence reports indicated that Dr. Joseph might be transported to another location as early as 9 December 2012. Dr. Joseph was being held in a small, single-room building.
The target compound was located in a remote area beside a mountain in the Qarghah’i District of Laghman Province, Afghanistan. Chief Byers was part of the rescue team that planned to make entry into the room of guards where the hostage was believed to be located. Success of the rescue operation relied upon surprise, speed, and aggressive action. Trading personal security for speed of action was inherent to the success of this rescue mission. Each assaulter in the rescue force volunteered for this operation with full appreciation for the risks they were to undertake.
With the approval of the Commander of all International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, the rescue force launched from its forward operating base. The infiltration was an exhaustive patrol across unimproved trails and mountainous terrain. After nearly four hours of patrolling, the rescue force was positioned to make its assault on the target compound.
As the patrol closed to within 25 meters of the target building, a guard became aware of the rescue force. The forward-most assaulter shot at the guard and ran towards the door to make entry as the guard disappeared inside. Chief Byers was the second assaulter in a sprint towards the door. Six layers of blankets securely fastened to the ceiling and walls served as the Afghan door. While Chief Byers tried to rip down the blankets, the first assaulter pushed his way through the doorway and was immediately shot by enemy AK-47 fire. Chief Byers, fully aware of the hostile threat inside the room, boldly entered and immediately engaged a guard pointing an AK-47 towards him. As he was engaging that guard, another adult male darted towards the corner of the room. Chief Byers could not distinguish if the person may have been the hostage scrambling away or a guard attempting to arm himself with an AK-47 that lay in the corner. Chief Byers tackled the unknown male and seized control of him. While in hand-to-hand combat, Chief Byers maintained control of the unknown male with one hand, while adjusting the focus of his night vision goggles (NVGs) with his other. Once his NVGs were focused, he recognized that the male was not the hostage and engaged the struggling armed guard.
By now other team members had entered the room and were calling to Dr. Joseph to identify himself. Chief Byers heard an unknown voice speak English from his right side. He immediately leaped across the room and selflessly flung his body on top of the American hostage, shielding him from the continued rounds being fired across the room. Almost simultaneously, Chief Byers identified an additional enemy fighter directly behind Dr. Joseph. While covering the hostage with his body, Chief Byers was able to pin the enemy combatant to the wall with his hand around the enemy’s throat. Unable to fire any effective rounds into the enemy, Chief Byers was able to restrain the combatant enough to enable his teammate to fire precision shots, eliminating the final threat within the room.
Chief Byers quickly talked to Dr. Joseph, confirming that he was able to move. He and his Team Leader stood Dr. Joseph up, calmed him, and let him know he was safe with American Forces. Once Dr. Joseph was moved to the helicopter-landing zone, Chief Byers, a certified paramedic and 18D medic, assisted with the rendering of medical aid to the urgent surgical assaulter. Chief Byers and others performed CPR during the 40-minute flight to Bagram Airfield where his teammate was declared deceased.
Chief Petty Officer Byers displayed superior gallantry, extraordinary heroism at grave personal risk, dedication to his teammates, and calm tactical leadership while liberating Dr. Dilip Joseph from captivity. He is unquestionably deserving of the Medal of Honor.
Byers is the 11th living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for heroism during combat in Afghanistan. He told the Navy Times that the medal is really for all SEALs:
“I’m going to be a representative for the Navy and the Naval Special Warfare community and there’s a weight that that carries with,” Byers said in the video. “And that weight is the sacrifices that everybody has made within this community, guys like Nic Cheq and all my other brothers who have fallen. It’s an affirmation, once again, of the job that we do.”
Respect. Pour one out for Nic Cheq tonight, Bros.