SEAL's Heroic Actions Didn't Stop after Mission that Resulted in MoH

Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers, Jr., poses for a portrait March 1, 2016 at the Pentagon. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/Released)
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers, Jr., poses for a portrait March 1, 2016 at the Pentagon. (U.S. Army photo by Monica King/Released)

Senior Chief Edward Byers already had performed the heroic action that resulted in him being awarded the nation's highest military honor earlier this year when he returned to Afghanistan in the spring of 2014.

But far from resting on his laurels for helping rescue Dr. Dilip Joseph in 2012, the elite SEAL's heroic actions kept on coming.

Navy documents released under the Freedom of Information Act show Byers was awarded one of his five Bronze Star medals for "superior battlefield courage" in a remote enemy stronghold on April 20, 2014. A citation says Byers was on a "time-sensitive" mission that resulted in the elimination of high-value couriers.

The Bronze Star is one of the Navy's top awards for combat, requiring "heroic actions" that don't quite meet the standard for a Silver Star, the nation's third-highest military combat decoration.

The documents provide additional insight into the normally secretive world of special operations and the career of a SEAL who would prefer to stay in the shadows but has appeared before international media, rung the bell at the New York Stock Exchange and posed for pictures with comedian Jon Stewart since receiving the Medal of Honor.

The Navy has not said where Byers is stationed, but he's been assigned to Virginia Beach-based SEAL teams for much of his career, which has included 11 overseas deployments and nine combat tours. Many of the details of Byers' missions remain secret, but the documents offer a glimpse.

"During the execution of a vehicle interdiction, the enemy immediately and effectively engaged his assault force at close range," his citation for the 2014 mission says. "Without hesitation, he skillfully guided and directed both his partner force and his team into an exposed position to engage an enemy attempting to maneuver on friendly forces."

After the threat was "eliminated," the citation says Byers directed his team toward the vehicle and "neutralized the threats that remained at the interdiction site."

Byers was cited for his "extraordinary guidance, zealous initiative, and total dedication to duty."

The citation was for one of two Bronze Stars that Byers earned with the "Combat V" for valor distinction.

The other Bronze Star with Combat V came for another operation in Afghanistan. The Navy citation says that between October 2012 and March 2013 Byers assaulted a compound housing a Taliban commander as part of a joint task force. Byers moved with Afghan forces to clear the compound, directing their movements.

But after noticing the Ktah Khas -- Afghanistan's counterterrorism force -- were spread too thin, Byers assisted a lone Afghan partner clearing a room. As they entered, they were met by three armed enemies.

"Without hesitation and with deadly precision, Chief (Byers) engaged, eliminating the threat," the citation says. "His swift actions protected the members of the Ktah Khas Afghan and assault force while eliminating armed threats in the target compound to include the target individual."

After he received the Medal of Honor, Byers, 36, said he planned to continue serving as a SEAL.

"I'm going to take whatever job or mission is next," Byers said in a Feb. 24 Navy video. "I still love what I do."

Byers grew up in Grand Rapids, Ohio, and joined the Navy in September 1998. He attended the basic underwater demolition-SEAL course in 2002 and completed the special operations combat medic course in 2003. Byers holds a National Paramedics License, and the White House said in February that he will graduate this year from Norwich University, a private military institution in Vermont, with a bachelor of science in strategic studies and defense analysis.

Byers' other decorations include two Purple Hearts for being wounded in action, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor device, and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with Combat V device.

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