In a White House press release Tuesday, President Obama announced that he will award the Medal of Honor to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers on Feb. 29. Byers is receiving the highest military award for his bravery and service as part of a SEAL team that rescued a U.S. citizen being held hostage in Afghanistan in December of 2012.
In the December mission, Byers and the other members of the SEAL Team Six unit raided a Taliban hideout where American doctor, Dilip Joseph, was being held. Joseph, who was in Afghanistan on a humanitarian medical trip to “train the local health professionals”, was held hostage for three and a half days before the SEAL team rescued him, he reported in a radio interview.
The White House is keeping most of the details surrounding the rescue mission secret, only stating that Byers is receiving the award for his, “courageous actions while serving as part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan, December 8-9, 2012.”
Byers, who is originally from Ohio, will be adding the Medal of Honor to his already remarkable military awards consisting of five Bronze Stars with valor, two Purple Hearts, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with valor, three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals (one with valor), two Combat Action Ribbons, three Presidential Unit Citations, two Joint Meritorious Unit Awards, two Navy Unit Commendations and five Good Conduct Medals.
While the Pentagon will not confirm whether Byers was a part of the SEAL Team Six unit, Joseph noted that the rescue team gave him a SEAL military coin that contained the roman numeral VI.
Byers will be the first living Navy service member since 1998 to receive the Medal of Honor and will be just the eleventh living service member in history to receive the medal for actions in Afghanistan, The Navy Times reports.