Medal of Honor

Medal of Honor recipient receives hero’s welcome home

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Veterans of ages gathered on the grounds of the Wood County Courthouse Wednesday morning to honor one of their own – the only local veteran to receive the Medal of Honor since the members of Andrews Raiders during the Civil War. “Not one of us who has served considers ourselves heroic,” said Dave Ridenour, of American Legion Post 45 in Bowling Green. “We are ordinary citizens, who at time performed extraordinary feats.” While many are brave – very few qualify as heroic, Ridenour said. “But today we are celebrating a true hero,” he said. U.S. Navy Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers, Jr. – who is a native of Grand Rapids and 1997 graduate of Otsego High School – was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2016 for actions in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. And on Wednesday, the Medal of Honor monument at the courthouse was unveiled with Byers name etched in along with the Civil War soldiers honored long ago. Veteran Jim Carter listens during program. Byers earned the honor during a night in December 2012, when his unit rescued Dr. Dilip Joseph from the Taliban deep in the remote mountains of eastern Afghanistan. After walking four hours in the freezing night to reach the Taliban camp, Byers was the second SEAL through the door of a tiny, one-room building where Joseph was held hostage. Byers killed two armed Taliban fighters before identifying Joseph and shielding him from harm. As bullets flew across the room, Byers leaped on top the doctor, using his own body armor to shield the captive as his fellow SEALs exchanged gunfire with enemy fighters. As Byers protected Joseph, he spotted an AK-47-wielding Taliban guard just inches away. He continued to shield Joseph with his body as he grabbed the gunman by the throat, pinning him to a wall long enough for another SEAL to shoot him dead. His good friend Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Checque was shot after being the first man through the door during the rescue. Once outside, Byers, a medic, turned his attention to Checque, spending the 40-minute flight back to Bagram Airfield trying to resuscitate his friend. Checque was declared dead at the American base. “His bold and decisive actions under fire saved the lives of the hostage and several of his teammates,” Wood County Veterans Assistance Center Executive…


Medal of Honor recipient to attend local memorial unveiling

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Wood County will have a certified hero in its midst next week when his name is unveiled on the Medal of Honor monument in front of the Wood County Courthouse. U.S. Navy Master Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers, Jr., will be recognized on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. on the front lawn of the county courthouse. Byers, a native of Grand Rapids and 1997 graduate of Otsego High School, was awarded the Medal of Honor in 2016 for actions in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. In a story in the military’s “Stars and Stripes” publication, Byers described the night in December 2012, when his unit rescued Dr. Dilip Joseph from the Taliban deep in the remote mountains of eastern Afghanistan. After walking four hours in the freezing night to reach the Taliban camp, Byers was the second SEAL through the door of a tiny, one-room building where Joseph was held hostage. Byers killed two armed Taliban fighters before identifying Joseph and shielding him from harm. As bullets flew across the room, Byers leaped on top the doctor, using his own body armor to shield the captive as his fellow SEALs exchanged gunfire with enemy fighters. As Byers protected Joseph, he spotted an AK-47-wielding Taliban guard just inches away. He continued to shield Joseph with his body as he grabbed the gunman by the throat, pinning him to a wall long enough for another SEAL to shoot him dead, according to the Stars and Stripes. His good friend Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas Checque was shot after being the first man through the door during the rescue. Once outside, Byers, a medic, turned his attention to Checque, spending the 40-minute flight back to Bagram Airfield trying to resuscitate his friend. Checque was declared dead at the American base. Byers is just the sixth Navy SEAL in history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. He’s the 11th living American service member to receive the medal for actions in Afghanistan. When presenting the award, President Barack Obama called Byers “a special breed of warrior that so often serves in the shadows.” The hostage, who was in Afghanistan to establish medical facilities, was told “the Americans are not coming for you,” Obama said. “They were wrong.” The president talked of Byers’ childhood in Grand Rapids, where he would play in the woods with friends, wearing…


Otsego graduate to receive Medal of Honor

Edward Byers, a Navy Seal who graduated from Otsego High School, will receive the nation’s highest honor later this month. The White House has announced that Byers, a senior chief special warfare operator, will receive the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama on Feb. 29. According to the White House press release: “Senior Chief Byers will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan on December 8-9, 2012. “Senior Chief Byers will be the eleventh living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Afghanistan. He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.” Byers, 36, graduated from Otsego High in 1997. He enlisted in 1998 and trained as a corpsman. He has served in seven combat deployments earning numerous awards and decorations including five Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts. He is continuing his education at Norwich University in Vermont where he will receive Bachelor of Science in Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis later this year.