Medal of Honor Recipient Speaks to PCMS

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PCMS Executive Director Bruce Ehrle and US Navy Senior Chief Edward Byers, Jr.

The 2017 Annual Meeting of the Pierce County Medical Society was conducted during the evening of December 6 at the Tacoma Country and Golf Club. 

Attendees were greeted by festive decorations and holiday music performed by members of the terrific Tacoma Youth Symphony.  Gifts for women and children were dropped off for distribution to the YWCA Shelter in Tacoma.  Raffle prizes consisting of Harry and David products as well as gift cards to the Lobster Shop were drawn for. 

Outgoing PCMS President Steven Litsky, MD thanked members of the 2017 Board of Trustees, noted those with tenure carrying over to 2018, and thanked Brian Mulhall, MD and Susan McDonald, MD for their service as they depart the Board.  He presented the gavel to incoming President Khash Dehghan, MD who welcomed new members coming on to the Board of Trustees in 2018. 

Vice President Aaron Pace, MD presented his fellow dermatologist Sidney Whaley, MD with the 2017 PCMS Community Service Award in recognition of his lifelong efforts to serve the citizens of Pierce County as well as his colleagues far beyond the duties of his medical practice.  Dr. Whaley thanked his fellow physicians who were always willing to seek to improve their quality of care as well as all the medical residents he was associated with during his years of practice before he retired who supported the work of the profession including by bringing new ideas and innovation in to it.  

Executive Director Bruce Ehrle offered remarks about the importance of always trying to remain focused on big picture priorities including love and loyalty even as life’s responsibilities, events, and schedules may try their best to conspire to blur that focus.  He spoke about the recent death of his mother and discussed his 19-year association with the US Armed Forces as personal reminders to him of maintaining a sense of the relative brevity of life and the need to seek to enjoy it fully.  Bruce then introduced the guest of honor and speaker, US Navy Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers, Jr. who is a recipient of the Medal of Honor for his actions on a 2012 Navy SEAL team mission to rescue a civilian US physician from Taliban captivity in Afghanistan including risking his own life to shield the doctor from the intense firefight while at the same time eliminating hostile threats in the room all within a matter of seconds.  Bruce noted that in his friendship with Ed that he had discovered that it is not the Medal of Honor that defines Senior Chief Byers but rather the honor within his character that led to the performance of his duties in a manner where he was awarded the MOH.  Bruce Ehrle and Edward Byers are pictured in the adjoining photo.  

Senior Chief Byers spoke to attendees about his experiences as a Navy SEAL including offering advice to physicians about how to persevere and to overcome adversity including the failure to save a patient.  He noted the death of Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator Nicolas Checque on the mission to rescue the doctor in 2012 and led attendees in a toast to the fallen and to all those serving worldwide especially during the holidays.  Byers reviewed the many holidays that military service has forced him to miss at home and reminded everyone of the value of being able to be close to hearth and home during this festive time when so many can’t.  Senior Chief Byers focused on humility as a central characteristic that leads to personal strength.  Following his over half hour of remarks, many physicians noted that they had been deeply humbled and greatly inspired by what Senior Chief Byers had shared.