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President Obama presented the Medal of Honor on Monday to a Navy SEAL who helped lead a dangerous mission to rescue an American doctor being held hostage in Afghanistan in 2012.
Obama awarded the nation’s highest military honor to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers, just the sixth SEAL to receive the medal.
The president praised Byers as a “consummate, quiet professional” who usually shuns the type of spotlight shined on him during Monday’s White House ceremony.
“Today’s ceremony is truly unique, a rare opportunity for the American people to get a glimpse of a special breed of warrior that so often serves in the shadows,” Obama said.
Byers, a member of the elite SEAL Team Six, participated in an operation that led to the rescue of Dr. Dilip Joseph, who had been kidnapped by the Taliban for ransom along with his driver and interpreter.
Exposing himself to enemy fire, Byers, rushed into the one-room building where Joseph was being held after one of his SEAL team members was shot and killed. Byers helped shield Joseph’s body from enemy fire, and at the same time, pinned down a guard with his bare hands.
A native of Toledo, Ohio, Byers joined the Navy in 1998 and has completed seven combat tours overseas. He is the eleventh living U.S. military service member to receive the Medal of Honor for their actions in Afghanistan.