Navy SEAL gets Medal of Honour

2016-03-01 05:21
President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honour to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers during a ceremony in the White House. (J Scott Applewhite, AP)

President Barack Obama presents the Medal of Honour to Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers during a ceremony in the White House. (J Scott Applewhite, AP)

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Washington - President Barack Obama is awarding the nation's highest military honour to a Navy SEAL who participated in a daring 2012 raid that rescued an American hostage in Afghanistan.

Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers, jnr, is the first living, active duty member of the Navy to receive the award in four decades.

Obama says Byers is the "consummate quiet professional" who would rather be elsewhere, but he says the ceremony gives Americans the chance to glimpse a special kind of warrior who often serves in the shadows.

The rescue was undertaken by members of the Navy's famed SEAL Team 6. Byers was the second Navy SEAL to enter the building containing hostage Dr Dilip Joseph, who was abducted along with his driver and Afghan interpreter. The first to enter the building, Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D Checque, was shot and killed.

Hearing English, Byers threw himself on the hostage, using his body to shield Joseph from the bullets, Obama said. Another enemy fighter appeared, and Byers pinned the fighter to the wall and held him until his team mates took action.

"In just minutes, by going after those guards, Ed saved the lives of several team mates, and that hostage," Obama said.

Obama also honoured Checque's service during Monday's ceremony, noting that he is among 55 SEALs to make the ultimate sacrifice since the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

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