- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2016

The White House announced this week that a Navy SEAL who used his body to shield an American hostage during a Taliban raid will receive the Medal of Honor.

President Obama will present Senior Chief Warfare Operator Edward Byers, 36, with the nation’s highest award for valor during a ceremony at the White House on Feb. 29.

He will be the 11th living service member to receive the medal for actions in Afghanistan and the Navy’s third recipient since the Vietnam War.

Chief Byers assisted in the 2012 rescue of Dr. Dilip Joseph, an American aid worker who was abducted by the Taliban along with his driver and interpreter three days before the mission.

Chief Byers and his team trekked for four hours across rocky Afghan terrain to raid the small compound where Dr. Joseph was being held, according to an unclassified summary of the mission provided by the Defense Department.

Dr. Joseph described the rescue in his book “Kidnapped by the Taliban: A Story of Terror, Hope and Rescue by SEAL Team Six.” He said he woke that night to hear dogs barking and sheep bleating outside the building. Two minutes later he was in a military helicopter, the Richmond-Times Dispatch reported.

According to the Defense Department summary, a guard spotted the SEAL team when it moved within 25 meters of the building. Chief Byers was the second person on the team to reach the compound. The first soldier to arrive at the building pushed his way through the doorway and was immediately shot.

Chief Byers then entered the building and selflessly threw himself on top of Dr. Joseph, shielding him from the firefight.

“Almost simultaneously, Chief Byers identified an additional enemy fighter directly behind Dr. Joseph. While covering the hostage with his body, Chief Byers was able to pin the enemy combatant to the wall with his hand around the enemy’s throat,” the summary said.

Chief Byers restrained the man until another SEAL was able to shoot him dead, the summary said.

The SEAL who died during the rescue has previously been identified as Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, 28, of Monroeville, Pennsylvania.

Chief Byers grew up in Ohio and has completed eight overseas deployments with seven combat tours.

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