A dramatic hostage rescue of an American doctor being held by the Taliban has led to a Navy SEAL, Edward Byers, becoming just the 11th living soldier to receive the Medal of Honor. Byers will receive the military’s highest award on February 29 at a ceremony at the White House. Medal of Honor recipients normally have their story of bravery told, but due to the classified nature of the hostage rescue, some key details of the mission were not revealed. The information that has been released by the Pentagon is considered unclassified.
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The rescue of Doctor Dilip Joseph took place on December 8 and 9 in 2012. Doctor Joseph was kidnapped and held hostage by the Taliban along with the Afghani man who was acting as Joseph’s interpreter. According to information that we do know about the rescue, Byers is said to have shown “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.” Joseph wrote a book about his hostage situation called Kidnapped by the Taliban: A Story of Terror, Hope, and Rescue by SEAL Team Six.
In order to rescue Dr. Joseph in Laghman Province, Byers and his SEAL team had to travel for four hours over rugged, mountainous terrain. Joseph’s hostage takers spotted the SEAL rescue team when they were less than 100 feet away from the building where the doctor was. Byers soon found himself as the second soldier to reach the makeshift door. The first soldier to enter the building was shot by a member of the Taliban. A summary of the heroics of Byers was released by the Pentagon.
“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.”
Once the threat inside of the building was neutralized, Dr. Joseph was taken to a helicopter that was waiting to take him and the SEAL rescue team to safety. Byers attempted to treat the wounds suffered by his fellow SEAL who was shot but was unsuccessful. Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque died in the line of duty as a result of his wounds.
Doctor Joseph, having heard that Byers will be receiving the Medal of Honor, told CNN that he was “thrilled that he is getting this accolade and being honored this way,” and that Byers is “more than worthy” of receiving the top award the military has to offer. Joseph also said that Byers “gave me a second chance in life.” It is not known if the doctor held hostage will attend the Medal of Honor ceremony.
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At 36 years old, Byers has received other awards and medals due to his heroic acts during the course of his military career. These awards include five awards of the Bronze Star with valor and two Purple Hearts.
Byers is a native of Ohio and joined the Navy shortly after graduating from high school. He has completed eight tours overseas, seven of which were done in combat zones. Later this year, Byers will have completed a bachelor’s degree in strategic studies and defense analysis from the Norwich University in Vermont.
Based on what has been released from the Pentagon about the dramatic hostage rescue, do you agree that Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers deserves to be awarded the Medal of Honor?
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