He is the Navy’s first living Medal of Honor recipient in decades and just the third Navy SEAL to be awarded the Medal of Honor during the Global War on Terror for his actions during a 2012 mission to save an American hostage held by the Taliban.
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward Byers was the second assaulter on the mission and engaged multiple enemies with both his rifle and his bare hands while using his body to shield American doctor Dilip Joseph.
The award is bittersweet for the Navy SEAL reported to be part of SEAL Team 6 because a teammate, Nic Cheque was killed during the raid.
For the first time, Byers talked with the media about that night with the media:
“Our point man, Nic Cheque, he was right in front of me. He saw a guard come out of that door and he engaged that guard and we started sprinting towards the door.
“Nic made his way in and then I made my way in right behind him. I went down my wall and I engaged one of the enemy that was on the backside of the wall. Then I saw another person moving across the floor. So By the time I got to him, he was on his back and I was able to get down on top of him and straddle him, pin him down with my knees and I had to adjust my night vision to try to get some facial recognition.
“At the same time this is happening, I’m calling out, trying to find the location of the American hostage. Finally, he spoke up and it was at that time that I engaged the person I was on top of and jumped off the guy I was on and onto the doctor who was about 3, 4, maybe five feet to my right.
“The reason I did that is because I’m wearing body armor, so I want to protect him from any other potential threats in the room.
“Anyone who’s been in combat knows that in those moments you either react or you get killed. When I did that there was a guy who was right behind him (the American hostage) within arms reach who was armed and I was able to pin that guy to the wall by his throat while kind of holding the doctor and waiting for my teammates to come in and take care of that threat that was right next to us.
“Once that was done, I still laid on top of him. I kept asking him like “hey can you walk” and “is there anything medically wrong with you?” because our goal is to bring this guy back alive. He said he was fine.
“Once we got outside, I noticed that our medics were working on Nic. And, you know, being a medic myself, I passed off the American hostage to my other teammates and went over to work on Nic and we did resuscitative efforts on him all the way to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.”
Asked what he plans to do after receiving the award, Byers put it very simply.
“I’m going to continue being a SEAL. I’m going to take whatever job or mission is next for me and just continue doing that. I don’t have any plans on changing my job at this time. I still love what I do and as long as I still love what I do, I’m going to continue doing it.”
When pressed if he considers himself a hero, Byers put the attention back onto Nic Cheque.
“Nic embodied the essence of what it is to be an American hero. He will forever be remembered in the pages of history for the sacrifices he made.”