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Edward Byers was the second Navy SEAL through the door of a house in eastern Afghanistan where the Taliban was holding an American doctor.

The first got shot immediately.

Then Byers rushed in. Wearing body armor and night-vision goggles, he shot and grappled with guards while calling out for the hostage. A voice replied from a few feet away: “I’m right here.”

Byers threw himself on doctor to cover him from gunfire. With a free hand, Byers grabbed a nearby captor by the throat and pinned him to the wall until another member of the six-man SEAL team shot him.

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WASHINGTON — Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers was the second one through the door as his SEAL Team Six unit raided a Taliban hide-out where an American doctor was held hostage.

Inside, he saw an unknown man darting for the corner of the room. Not knowing whether the man was a militant grabbing a gun or a hostage diving for cover, Byers tackled him to the floor. When Byers heard the hostage identify himself, he threw himself on top of the doctor to protect him from gunfire, even as he pinned the enemy against the wall with his hand to the enemy’s throat.

Byers’ role in the rescue mission, a tightly held secret until Tuesday, has earned him the  Medal of Honor, the White House said Tuesday. President Obama will present the highest military honor to Byers at the White House on Feb. 29.

Byers’ commendation cites only “his courageous actions while serving as part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan, December 8-9, 2012.” The awarding of the Medal of Honor provides a unique view into the mission in 2012 to rescue the American doctor and how the elite and secretive Navy SEAL unit operates.

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