The Navy SEAL who will be honored with the nation's highest valor award for rushing into gunfire to shield an American hostage four years ago in Afghanistan says he doesn't consider himself a hero.
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward Byers will become the Navy's first living Medal of Honor recipient in decades when he is honored Monday at the White House. For Byers, the 2012 rescue mission was bittersweet. The hostage was freed, but at the cost of a SEAL teammate.
"This award surrounds a specific mission that we did, and in that mission [Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL)] Nic Checque was ultimately killed," Byers said in a video released Friday by the Navy.
Byers was the second assaulter on the nighttime rescue mission to free an American citizen held by the Taliban in Afghanistan's Laghman Province. Byers rushed into the single-room compound where Dr. Dilip Joseph was being held just as the pointman Checque was shot by guards.
Byers returned fire and identified Joseph, leaping across the room to shield him from gunfire as other rescuers entered the compound, according to a Navy summary of the mission.
"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."