SEAL Edward Byers to receive Congressional Medal of Honor
...These men are a special breed who demonstrate what is best about those willing to defend this country. They are fighting a wicked enemy that is comfortable with committing mass murders of non-combatants. They are what stands between civilians in this country and the barbarians of radical Islam.
Indeed, if not for his “conspicuous gallantry” that night the details of that mission would remain largely secret. His SEAL Team Six, the same elite unit that killed Osama bin Laden, had been tapped to rescue Dilip Joseph, an American doctor taken hostage by the Taliban. As he has before every mission, Byers said a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.
“Defend us in battle,” it begins.
After a four-hour hike over rugged terrain on the cold night, Byers and his SEAL teammates approached the building where Joseph was being held. The first SEAL through the door, Chief Nicolas Checque, 28, was cut down by fire from an AK-47.
Byers barreled in behind Checque, killed a guard pointing a rifle at him, and tackled another man. Byers held that man with one hand while adjusting his night-vision goggles with the other. Byers determined that man wasn’t Joseph and killed him.
When Byers heard somebody speaking English, he hurled himself across the room and on top of Joseph to protect him from bullets whizzing across the room. At nearly the same instant, Byers grabbed the last guard by the throat and pinned him to wall where he was shot dead by other SEALs.
Five Taliban lay dead, and Byers, a trained paramedic, sought in vain to revive Checque. A helicopter whisked away the Americans. A report by The New York Times on the mission quoted Joseph as saying one of the Taliban fighters was captured alive and later was found dead. The Pentagon disputes that account.
Byers, in the interview, said he had not read Joseph’s book and doesn’t intend to. The military’s account of the mission is accurate, he said. Also not open for debate, according to Byers, is the bravery of Checque and the other SEALs, any of whom was prepared to die that night.
“First off, the loss of Nick Checque is a tragedy,” Byers said. “However, he died a warrior’s death. And that night was a success in everyone’s mind because we brought back an American hostage. That was our mission; it was a hostage rescue.
Byers, who is married and has an 11-year-old daughter, credited the support of his family, friends and the tight-knit SEAL community for allowing him to continue serving. He acknowledged the frequent combat tours take a toll, and noted that he has been deployed every year his daughter has been alive.