WASHINGTON — Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Edward C. Byers Jr. joined the more than 3,460 other Medal of Honor recipients listed in the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes March 1, during an induction ceremony in the Pentagon Auditorium.
One day after receiving the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama, Byers was honored with a commemorative plaque that will be displayed within the hall. Byers is being recognized for his valiant rescue efforts during a hostage situation in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in December 2012.
Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson spoke at the event.
Work opened the ceremony saying Byers embodied the "remarkable heroism" and "selfless bravery" common to all special operators in the field.
"Your selfless and heroic actions in the face of a determined enemy read like a Hollywood script," he said. "Your story represents the very best of military men and women...and the limitless things that I know you and your teammates will continue to do in the future."
Mabus echoed Work's sentiments. "I couldn't be prouder to be a part of a ceremony that recognizes a Sailor. His loyalty to the mission to rescue an American citizen is selflessness in its purest sense," he said. He also thanked Byers' family-his wife Madison, daughter Hannah, mother Peggy-and Byers' team members for their continued support.
Richardson said Byers' actions were "emblematic of this generation's dedication to the Navy Core Values: honor, courage and commitment," adding that he will serve as "an inspiration" for the next generation of leaders and Medal of Honor winners.
Work, along with Mabus, Richardson and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Mike Stevens, joined Byers and Madison on stage for the presentation of the commemorative Hall of Heroes plaque and the Medal of Honor Flag.
Navy SEAL Byers Medal of Honor Induction Ceremony
As family and supporters looked on, Byers took to the podium and spoke of his admiration for his fellow teammates, as well as for all members of the Special Forces community who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.
"I, along with many of my teammates, have been to many funerals at Arlington [National Cemetery]. We have seen too many good men buried," he said. "Many may ask, 'What is it that keeps you going in the face of so much death?'" Without a question, he said, it's the brotherhood.
"I'm no different than any one of my teammates. I'm certain any one of them would take the same actions I did that day. I proudly wear this trident to represent the brotherhood," he added.
The Hall of Heroes is dedicated to the more than 3,460 recipients of the Medal of Honor. Along the walls of the room are the names of each recipient. All three versions of the Medal of Honor—the Army, Sea Service (Marine Corps, Navy and Coast Guard), and Air Force—are displayed in the Hall of Heroes. An asterisk next to some names represents service members who received two Medals of Honor for two separate acts of bravery. Dots are used to signify Marines who were under the command of the Army during WWI and received both the Army and Sea Service versions of the Medal of Honor for a single act of bravery.
Byers was born in Toledo, Ohio, and began his naval career in 1998 as a hospital corpsman. Following graduation from Hospital Corpsman School at Great Lakes, he completed the Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL course and the Special Operations Combat Medic course in 2003.
He served at Great Lakes Naval Hospital, 2nd Battalion and 2nd Marine Regiment at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, as well as East Coast SEAL teams, and completed 11 overseas deployments with nine combat tours. Byers was promoted to the rank of senior chief petty officer in January 2016.
Byers' personal decorations include the Bronze Star with Valor (five awards), the Purple Heart (two awards), the Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, the Navy Commendation Medal (three awards, one with Valor), the Combat Action ribbon (two awards) and the Good Conduct Medal (five awards). He is only the 11th living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for gallantry displayed in Afghanistan.