I don’t believe there are any ordinary Americans, but some are certainly extraordinary. One of these men is Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward C. Byers, Jr.
Byers will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor on Monday, February 29 for his actions to free an American doctor held captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan on December 8, 2012.
It appears that Byers was a member of the elite SEAL Team Six, also known as the United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group, or DEVGRU. This would be the same team that took out Osama bin Laden. Roughly 50% of active SEAL team members who try out for SEAL Team Six are not accepted into the team.
“Howard E. Wasdin, a former member of SEAL Team Six said in a recent interview that 16 applied for SEAL Team Six selection course and two were accepted. Those who do not pass the selection phase are returned to their previous assignments and are able to try again in the future.“
I believe that most Americans are heroes in their day-to-day duties of raising their families, serving their employers and communities, and paying taxes to provide for things like our national defense. (I’m thinking of Alabama’s song “Forty Hour Week” right now)
But without men like Byers and so many others in the U.S. military, none of us “ordinary” heroes would have the chance to be heroes to our children and others. Without them we might very well be speaking Japanese or German or reading the Q’uran at the point of a gun.
These ceremonies go largely unnoticed so I’m trying to make much of this particular case. My guess is that this ceremony will be covered by Fox News and possibly C-SPAN as well.
Our nation has been dragged through the mud for the past 8 years or so, but we’re still America and I for one am very thankful for men and women like Edward C. Byers, Jr. Their conduct in horrific circumstances is truly inspiring.
Below is some background on Byers and DEVGRU.
The United States Naval Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG), or DEVGRU, is a U.S. Navy component of Joint Special Operations Command. It is often referred to as SEAL Team Six, the name of its predecessor which was officially disbanded in 1987. DEVGRU is administratively supported by Naval Special Warfare Command and operationally commanded by the Joint Special Operations Command. Most information concerning DEVGRU is classified and details of its activities are not usually commented on by either the White House or the Department of Defense. Despite the official name changes, “SEAL Team Six” remains the unit’s widely recognized moniker. It is sometimes referred to in the U.S. media as a Special Mission Unit.
All applicants came from the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDTs) and East and West Coast SEAL teams. Marcinko’s criteria for recruiting applicants was combat experience so he would know they could perform under fire; language skills were vital, as the unit would have a worldwide mandate to communicate with the local population if needed; union skills, to be able to blend in as civilians during an operation; and finally SEAL skills. Members of SEAL Team Six were selected in part because of the different specialist skills of each man.
Candidates must pass three-days of physical and psychological testing that includes a Physical Screening Test (PST) where candidates must exceed the minimum requirements and perform at their highest level possible. Candidates are then interviewed by an oral review board to deem whether the candidate is suitable to undertake the selection phase. Those who pass the stringent recruitment and selection process will be selected to attend a six- to eight-month Operators Training Course. Candidates will screen with the unit’s training wing known as “Green Team”. The training course attrition rate is high, usually around 50 percent; during one selection course, out of the original 20 candidates, 12 completed the course. All candidates are watched closely by DEVGRU instructors and evaluated on whether they are suitable to join the individual squadrons. Howard E. Wasdin, a former member of SEAL Team Six said in a recent interview that 16 applied for SEAL Team Six selection course and two were accepted. Those who do not pass the selection phase are returned to their previous assignments and are able to try again in the future.
Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator
EDWARD C. BYERS, JR
Navy SEAL, to receive Medal of Honor Monday, tells his story