On Monday, February 29th, 2016, Navy SEAL Edward Byers received the Medal of Honor award. President Obama awarded Mr. Byers the highest honor a U.S. soldier can receive for his role in rescuing an American civilian held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan. The United States has been fighting the terrorist organization called the Taliban since 2001.
Medal of Honor
The United States Medal of Honor is the highest military honor an American can earn. It is awarded for acts of valor above and beyond the call of duty. The Medal of Honor award was created during the American Civil War (1861-1865). Congress determines who wins the award, and the President gives the award in the name of Congress. There have been 3,513 Medals of Honor awarded to the country’s soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen. Nearly half of them were awarded to Civil War combatants. Fourteen men have received two Medals of Honor for two separate actions.
In 1963, Congress required that all Medal of Honor recipients had “distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.” And, the following three circumstances must be met:
- While engaged in action against an enemy of the United States
- While engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force.
- While serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party
Navy SEAL Edward Byers
Navy SEAL Edward Byers helped rescue American hostage Dilip Joseph, a doctor, husband and father of four, from the Taliban, who held him hostage in Afghanistan. Byers was part of Navy SEAL Team Six that entered the room where Joseph was held. The first SEAL entered the room and was shot and killed by a terrorist with an AK-47. Byers then entered the room, engaged a guard in a firefight and tackled and subdued another guard. After Joseph identified himself as American, Byers leaped across the room and flung himself on top of Joseph, protecting Joseph from the bullets with his own body. While protecting Joseph, Byers fought another terrorist and pinned him up against the wall. Byers is one of 11 living recipients of the Medal of Honor from the war in Afghanistan.
- What is the highest honor given to a U.S. soldier?
- How many soldiers have earned this highest honor?
- What did Navy SEAL Edward Byers do to earn this medal?
- Who was Byers fighting?
- Why are we at war against the Taliban in Afghanistan?