A SEAL Team 6 member who took part in a daring hostage rescue in Afghanistan is going to become the first living sailor to receive the Medal of Honor in almost 20 years. The White House says Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers will receive the medal at a Feb. 29 ceremony to honor his courageous actions in the 2012 rescue of a kidnapped American doctor from the Taliban, reports the Navy Times. One SEAL Team 6 member was killed during the raid. According to an unclassified summary seen by CNN, Byers, the second man to enter the room where hostage Dilip Joseph was being held, managed to subdue a guard in hand-to-hand combat before throwing himself on top of Joseph to protect him as the firefight continued.
While shielding the doctor, Byers took on the last surviving guard and "was able to pin the enemy combatant to the wall with his hand around the enemy's throat," the summary states. "There's no margin of doubt or possibility of error in awarding this honor," a defense official tells USA Today. "His actions were so conspicuous in terms of bravery and self-sacrifice that they clearly distinguished him to be worthy of the award, including risk of his own life." Byers, a 36-year-old Ohio native who joined the Navy in 1998, will be the sixth Navy SEAL ever to be awarded the country's highest honor for battlefield valor. Two were awarded posthumously to SEALs who died in Iraq and Afghanistan. (In November, a Medal of Honor was awarded to a soldier who tackled a bomber.)