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tv   Medal of Honor Ceremony  CSPAN  March 2, 2016 7:36pm-8:03pm EST

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frantically. we were just a few miles from the border from where these iraqis were going to come across. so we went up and just digging as fast as we could. and about this far underneath the ground was shale rock. so the sinking feeling came across is we're digging our positions six inches in the ground to with stand an iraqi onslaught. >> at 6:30 on road to white house, race for 02004 democratic presidential nomination between massachusetts senator john kerry and north carolina senator john edwards. for the complete american history tv weekend schedule go to on monday the president awarded navy s.e.a.l. senior
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chief edward beyers the congressional medal of honor. he's the sixth navy s.e.a.l. ever awarded to the honor. this is about 20 minutes. ♪ >> let us pray. heavenly father be with us today as we gather to see senior chief edward beyer receive our country ace highest military honor from the hands of the president. we offer you our thanks for the integrity, generosity of spirit and valor that mark shows in his
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service. we offer thanks for dr. joseph and restoring them both safely to the embrace of those who love them. at the same time our hearts go out to petty officer nicolas chapman and his family and friends. may a grateful america always remember and honor his service and his sacrifice, amen. >> please be seated. well, good morning, everyone. and welcome to the white house. the ethos -- the creed -- that guides every navy s.e.a.l. says this: "i do not advertise the nature of my work, nor seek recognition for my actions." which is another way of saying that standing here today, in front of the entire nation, is
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not senior chief ed byers's idea of a good time. (laughter.) like so many of our special operators, ed is defined by a deep sense of humility. he doesn't seek the spotlight. in fact, he shuns it. he's the consummate quiet professional. i imagine there are a lot of other places he'd rather be than in front of all these cameras. back in coronado for another hell week. holding his breath under dark, frigid water. spending months being cold, wet and sandy. i'm sure there are other things he'd rather be doing. but the medal of honor is our nation's highest military decoration. and today's ceremony is truly unique -- a rare opportunity for the american people to get a glimpse of a special breed of warrior that so often serves in the shadows.
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we're a nation of more than 300 million americans. of these, less than 1% wear the uniform of our armed forces. of these, just a small fraction serve in our special operations forces. among those who train to become a s.e.a.l., only a select few emerge and earn the right to wear that golden trident. in the entire history of the navy s.e.a.l.s, just five have been awarded the medal of honor. their names have become legend. norris. kerrey. thornton. murphy. monsoor. and now, a sixth -- byers. among the members of the medal of honor society who are with us, we are especially honored by
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the presence of tommy norris and mike thornton. (applause.) now, given the nature of ed's service, there is a lot that we cannot say today. many of the operational details of his mission remain classified. many of his teammates cannot be mentioned. and this is as it should be. their success demands secrecy, and that secrecy saves lives. there are, however, many distinguished guests that we can acknowledge, including members of congress, leaders from across our military, including the navy. in fact, this may be the largest gathering of special ops in the history of the white house. among them, we have, from special operations command, general joe votel and vice
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admiral sean pybus. from joint special operations command, rear admiral tim szymanski. and from naval special warfare command, rear admiral brian losey, and force master chief derrick walters. for america's special operators, this is a little bit of a family reunion and it's wonderful to have them all here. most of all, we welcome ed's wonderful family -- his wife madison, who like so many military spouses has kept their family strong back home while ed has been deployed; their spectacular daughter, hannah, who is a competitive figure skater and looks the part. (laughter.) ed likes to jump out of planes with a parachute, and when he's not skydiving, he's driving his 1976 shovelhead harley. when he's not out riding, he's staying in shape with hannah,
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who is apparently his workout partner. (laughter.) it's good when your trainer is a navy s.e.a.l. (laughter.) we also welcome mom's -- ed's mom peggy, who i understand had one question when ed told her about this ceremony -- "do you think i can come?" (laughter.) that's so sweet. yes, mom, you're allowed to come when your son gets the medal of honor. (laughter.) ed's brothers and sisters are here, as are about 50 cousins from all across the country. and dozens of friends -- many who served alongside ed -- some who have travelled from around the world to be here today. that's the brotherhood -- the depth of loyalty to service and to mission -- that binds these teams. now, looking back, it seems ed byers was destined to serve.
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his father served in the navy during world war ii and now rests in arlington. as a boy growing up in grand rapids, ohio, ed would be in the woods, in camouflage, in his words, "playing military" -- and i suspect the other kids did not stand a chance. (laughter.) a boy scout who loved adventure, ed saw a movie about the navy s.e.a.l.s and fell in love with the idea of deploying by sea, air and land. "i believe that man will not merely endure. "he will prevail," william faulkner once said, "because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance." even if he had never performed the actions for which he is being recognized here today, ed byers would be long remembered for his compassion, his sacrifice and his endurance. 11 overseas deployments. nine combat tours. recipient of the purple heart -- twice. the bronze star with valor -- five times.
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about three years ago, our nation called on that spirit once again. in afghanistan, an american doctor -- a husband and father of four children who was working to bring health care to the afghan people -- was driving down a rural road. gunmen surrounded his car and took him hostage. they tied his hands and marched him into the mountains. the days went by. in a remote valley, in a small single-room building, surrounded by taliban, he lost all hope. "i was certain," he thought, "i was about to die." his captors told him, the americans are not coming for you. well, they were wrong. whenever americans are taken hostage in the world, we move heaven and earth to bring them home safe. we send some thunder and some lightning -- our special operator forces, folks like ed
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byers. they're carefully selected for their character, their integrity and their judgment. they are highly trained, with skills honed by years of experience. and they willingly volunteer for missions of extraordinary risk, like this one. in this case, there was reason to believe that a taliban commander was on his way to take custody of the american hostage and move him into pakistan. so time was of the essence. from a remote forward operating base, ed and his joint team geared up, boarded their helos, and launched. once on the ground, they moved -- under the cover of darkness, on that cold december night -- through the mountains, down rocky trails, for hours. they found their target and moved in, quickly and quietly. then, when they were less than a hundred feet from the building, a guard came out, and the bullets started flying.
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our s.e.a.l.s rushed to the doorway, which was covered by a layer of blankets. ed started ripping them down, exposing himself to enemy fire. a teammate, the lead assaulter, pushed in and was hit. fully aware of the danger, ed moved in next. an enemy guard aimed his rifle right at him. ed fired. someone moved across the floor -- perhaps the hostage; perhaps another guard lunging for a weapon. the struggle was hand-to-hand. ed straddled him, pinning him down. ed adjusted his night vision goggles. things came into focus, and he was on top of a guard. the american hostage later described the scene. the dark room suddenly filled with men and the sound of exploding gunfire. narrow beams of light shot in every direction. voices called out his name. he answered, "i'm right here." hearing english, ed leapt across the room and threw himself on the hostage, using his own body
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now, success came with a price. that first seal through the door -- ed's friend, nic -- was grievously wounded. ed is a medic, so on the helo out, he stayed with nic, helping to perform cpr the entire flight -- 40 minutes long. today, we salute chief petty officer nicolas checque. back in monroeville,
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pennsylvania, they remembered him as the driven kid -- the football player and wrestler who always wanted to be a s.e.a.l. for his valor on this mission, he was awarded the navy cross, and he's among the 70 members of the naval special warfare community -- 55 of them s.e.a.l.s -- who have made the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11. the enduring love of nic's family and all those who admired him remind us of the immense sacrifices that our remarkable gold star families have made, and our obligation to stand with them always. so today, we don't simply honor a single individual. we also pay tribute to a community across our entire military -- special operators, aviators, engineers, technicians, analysts, countless enablers, and their devoted families.
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in these hard years since 9/11, our nation has called on this community like never before. small in number, they have borne an extraordinarily heavy load. but they continue to volunteer, mission after mission, year after year. load. but they continue to volunteer year after year. few americans ever see it. i am truly privileged and humbled that as commander and chief i do get to see it. i have given the order sending you into harm's way. i see the difference you make every day. the partner u.s you train, the other hostage you brought home, the terrorists you take out. i have waited like many of you in those minutes that seem like hours when the margin between success and failure is razor thin for word that the team is out safe. i have grieved with you. and i have stood with you at
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dover to welcome our fallen heros on their final journey home. our special operations forces are a strategic national asset. they teach us that humans are more important than hardware. today is a remind they're our nation has to keep investing in this irreplaceable asset. which means deploying our special operators wisely, preserving force and family, making sure these incredible americans stay strong in body, in mind and in spir ilt. so i will end where i started with the s.e.a.l. ethos. in times of war or uncertainty, there's a special breed of warrior ready to answer our nation's call. a common man with uncommon desire to succeed. forged by adversity, he stands alongside america's finest special operations forces to serve his country, the american people and protect their way of
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life. senior chief edward byers, junior, is such a man. chief petty officer nicholas check was that man. every navy s.e.a.l. who serves in his chosen profession is that man. the american people may not always see them. we may not always hear of their success. but they are there in the thick of the fight, in the dark of night, achieving their mission. we thank god they are they. we sleep more peacefully in our beds tonight because patriots like these stand ready to answer our nation's call and protect our way of life now and forever. and as we prepare for the reading of the citation, i ask you to join me in expressing america's profound gratitude to
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navy s.e.a.l. ed byers and all our quiet professionals. [ applause ] >> the president of the united states in the name of the congress takes pleasure in presenting the medal of honer to chief special warfare operator
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edward c. byers, junior, united states navy, at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a hostage rescue team force member in afghanistan in support of operation enduring freedom 2012. as a recuse force approach, the target building, an enmeemy detected them and darted inside. the sentry re-emerged and the lead assaulter attempted to neutralize him. chief byers sprinted to the door of the target building. as the primary breacher, he stood in the door fully exposed to the enemy fire while ripping down blankets to clear a path for the rescue force. the first assaulter pushed through the blankets and was wounded by enemy small arms fire from within. chief byers completely aware of the imminent threat fearlessly rushed into the room and engaged aiming an ak-47 at him. he then tackled another adult
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male who had darted towards the corner many roo. during the hand to hand struggle, chief byers confirmed the man was not the hostage and engaged him. as the other rescue team members called out to the hostage, chief byers heard a voice responding in english and raced toward it. he jumped atop the american host and and shielded him from the high volume of fire within the small room. while covering the hostage with his body, chief meyers immobilized another guard with his bare hands and restrained the guard until a teammate could eliminate him. his bold and decisive actions under fire saved the lives of hostage and several of his teammates. by his undaunted courage and unwaivering devotion to duty in the face of death, he upheld the highest tradition of the united states naval service.
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[ applause ]
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>> let us pray. lord of earth and sea and sky, as we conclude this moving and beautiful ceremony, we offer prayers for the country we serve. you have blessed america with riches and with strength. may we use them to make this world of yours more just, peaceable and humane. you have blessed america also with the tradition of heroism like that of senior chief byers and his brethren in arms. may all of us treasurer that history and may it inspire all of us to serve bravely, jennge l generously and faithfully. amen. >> that concludes the ceremony. but we actually throw a pretty good party here. i've been told the wfood is
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pretty good. welcome us in the reception. ed and i will take a few more pictures before he joins us. we are so grateful to him. we're grateful to his wonderful family. mom, i'd glad that you could come. we are grateful for our othered me afl honmedal of honor recipio are here and the special forces who are here. we are grateful to you. this is obviously an award for individual hair o are heroism. we are so grateful to your service to our nation. thank you very much. god bless. god bless america. [ applause ]
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up next on c-span3, dr. robert califf takes questions about the 2017 budget request for the fda. then a conversation on the influence that the latino vote will have in the 2016 elections. and later, hud secretary castro testifies at a budget hearing. dr. ben carson announced he is dropping out of the republican presidential race. his campaign released this statement.
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follow road to the white house coverage on the c-span networks. >> so many of my former books were horizontal studies. many countries across a whole region. the ends of the earth, eastward, covering a minimum of six countries, here i look at one country in depth. i use it to explore great themes. i think great themes. the holocaust, the cold war, the challenge of putin. remember, romania and moldova have a longer border with ukraine than even poland has. to study romania is to study the legacy of empires.
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>> sunday night on q & a, robert kaplan, he talks about the history of the balkan states and romania's struggle to gain democracy. >> romania was endemically a construct country. extremely corrupt because it had weak institutions that were very -- everything was based on bribe and double dealing. what this shows is this is nothing new. what's happening is that the romanian population has grown up and become far more sophisticated and is demanding clean government. it is its number one demand. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern on q and a. next, food and drug administration commissioner dr. robert califf testifies at a senate hearing about p


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