Medal of Honor Recipient Edward Byers Jr. to Speak at PCMS Annual Meeting

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The special guest of honor and speaker at this year’s PCMS Annual Meeting will be Medal of Honor recipient and Navy SEAL, Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers, Jr.

Senior Chief Byers received the Medal of Honor for his actions during a SEAL team mission on December 8, 2012 in Afghanistan to rescue an American civilian internal medicine physician who was participating in a medical mission to assist the people of that nation and who had been abducted by the Taliban on his way to a rural clinic.  The background on that mission and the citation read at the White House ceremony where President Obama made the presentation of the Medal of Honor to Senior Chief Byers are included below.

PCMS Executive Director Bruce Ehrle stated the following about this year’s special guest of honor and speaker:

“At a time when so many of our physician and PA members are experiencing stress from the turmoil in evolution of the health care system including the biggest changes to payment and care delivery in their careers, added to the stress of charting, coding, seeing an endless stream of patients during an era of critical shortages in primary care, behavioral health and some specialties, adopting HIT, and dealing with loss of patients while witnessing suffering, a central mission of the organization is motivating them to push on through adversity.  I am so happy that Ed is willing to help me out with this endeavor by flying to the Seattle-Tacoma area to speak to my doctors about perseverance.  Given the overall nature of his service to all of us in this nation far and beyond his amazing actions on one night five years ago that earned him the Medal of Honor, I can think of nobody who would be a better fit and more qualified to play this motivational role than Ed.  The fact that his SEAL mission that night was to save a doctor makes his time with us all the more appropriate.  I greatly look forward to welcoming this special patriot to the Pacific Northwest. 

The depth of character within Ed demonstrates that the honorable qualities he possesses have long been a hallmark of who he is.  That permitted him to perform his duties in the way he did that resulted in the Medal of Honor.  So, rather than that one night in 2012 or the Medal of Honor defining who he is, that one night and the Medal of Honor reflect a larger life for Ed of stellar and excellent service that fully lives up to the SEAL ethos and represents his brother SEALs very well in the manner that they all humbly protect us at such risk.  I am thankful for him, for his dedicated commitment to our country, and for his kindness in helping me with the motivation of physicians here in Pierce County.  It will be a very fun time.”

 

Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward C. Byers Jr.: For actions during Operation Enduring Freedom on Dec. 8, 2012

Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward C. Byers Jr., United States Navy, distinguished himself by heroic gallantry as an Assault Team Member attached to a Joint Task Force in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM on 8 December 2012.

Specific accomplishment:

Dr. Dilip Joseph is an American citizen, who was abducted with his driver and Afghan interpreter on 5 December 2012. Intelligence reports indicated that Dr. Joseph might be transported to another location as early as 9 December 2012. Dr. Joseph was being held in a small, single-room building.

The target compound was located in a remote area beside a mountain in the Qarghah’i District of Laghman Province, Afghanistan. Chief Byers was part of the rescue team that planned to make entry into the room of guards where the hostage was believed to be located. Success of the rescue operation relied upon surprise, speed, and aggressive action. Trading personal security for speed of action was inherent to the success of this rescue mission. Each assaulter in the rescue force volunteered for this operation with full appreciation for the risks they were to undertake.

With the approval of the Commander of all International Security Assistance Forces in Afghanistan, the rescue force launched from its forward operating base. The infiltration was an exhaustive patrol across unimproved trails and mountainous terrain. After nearly four hours of patrolling, the rescue force was positioned to make its assault on the target compound.

As the patrol closed to within 25 meters of the target building, a guard became aware of the rescue force. The forward-most assaulter shot at the guard and ran towards the door to make entry as the guard disappeared inside. Chief Byers was the second assaulter in a sprint towards the door. Six layers of blankets securely fastened to the ceiling and walls served as the Afghan door. While Chief Byers tried to rip down the blankets, the first assaulter pushed his way through the doorway and was immediately shot by enemy AK-47 fire. Chief Byers, fully aware of the hostile threat inside the room, boldly entered and immediately engaged a guard pointing an AK-47 towards him. As he was engaging that guard, another adult male darted towards the corner of the room. Chief Byers could not distinguish if the person may have been the hostage scrambling away or a guard attempting to arm himself with an AK-47 that lay in the corner. Chief Byers tackled the unknown male and seized control of him. While in hand-to-hand combat, Chief Byers maintained control of the unknown male with one hand, while adjusting the focus of his night vision goggles (NVGs) with his other. Once his NVGs were focused, he recognized that the male was not the hostage and engaged the struggling armed guard.

By now other team members had entered the room and were calling to Dr. Joseph to identify himself. Chief Byers heard an unknown voice speak English from his right side. He immediately leaped across the room and selflessly flung his body on top of the American hostage, shielding him from the continued rounds being fired across the room. 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. Unable to fire any effective rounds into the enemy, Chief Byers was able to restrain the combatant enough to enable his teammate to fire precision shots, eliminating the final threat within the room.

Chief Byers quickly talked to Dr. Joseph, confirming that he was able to move. He and his Team Leader stood Dr. Joseph up, calmed him, and let him know he was safe with American Forces. Once Dr. Joseph was moved to the helicopter-landing zone, Chief Byers, a certified paramedic and 18D medic, assisted with the rendering of medical aid to the urgent surgical assaulter. Chief Byers and others performed CPR during the 40-minute flight to Bagram Airfield where his teammate was declared deceased.

Chief Petty Officer Byers displayed superior gallantry, extraordinary heroism at grave personal risk, dedication to his teammates, and calm tactical leadership while liberating Dr. Dilip Joseph from captivity. He is unquestionably deserving of the Medal of Honor.

Official Citation

CHIEF SPECIAL WARFARE OPERATOR (SEA, AIR, AND LAND)
EDWARD C. BYERS, JR.
UNITED STATES NAVY

For service as set forth in the following

CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a Hostage Rescue Force Team Member in Afghanistan in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM from 8 to 9 December 2012. As the rescue force approached the target building, an enemy sentry detected them and darted inside to alert his fellow captors. The sentry quickly reemerged, and the lead assaulter attempted to neutralize him. Chief Byers with his team sprinted to the door of the target building. As the primary breacher, Chief Byers stood in the doorway fully exposed to enemy fire while ripping down six layers of heavy blankets fastened to the inside ceiling and walls to clear a path for the rescue force. The first assaulter pushed his way through the blankets, and was mortally wounded by enemy small arms fire from within. Chief Byers, completely aware of the imminent threat, fearlessly rushed into the room and engaged an enemy guard aiming an AK-47 at him. He then tackled another adult male who had darted towards the corner of the room. During the ensuing hand-to-hand struggle, Chief Byers confirmed the man was not the hostage and engaged him. As other rescue team members called out to the hostage, Chief Byers heard a voice respond in English and raced toward it. He jumped atop the American hostage and shielded him from the high volume of fire within the small room. While covering the hostage with his body, Chief Byers immobilized another guard with his bare hands, and restrained the guard until a teammate could eliminate him. His bold and decisive actions under fire saved the lives of the hostage and several of his teammates. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of near certain death, Chief Petty Officer Byers reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.