Navy SEAL Medal-of-Honor recipient returns to Coronado

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CORONADO, Calif. - A Navy SEAL who was awarded the Medal of Honor returned to Coronado Wednesday to accept a six-figure donation to help military families.

Sr. Chief Edward Byers Jr. accepted a $50,000 check from Shamrock Food Corp. on behalf of the Navy-Marine Relief Society at a ceremony Wednesday night.

Byers was awarded the Medal of Honor for heroic acts of bravery while rescuing an American doctor being held hostage by Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The SEAL made a point of telling FOX 5 that the rescue operation was a team effort.

“It’s all about the team. When it comes to my line of work, anyone of my guys could have been awarded this medal for any number of things they’ve done,” Byers said.

The operation was carried out by the famed SEAL Team 6.  As the SEALs entered the compound where the doctor was being held hostage, they took fire immediately. One of Byers' men was hit, and he charged the enemy guns, tackling one Taliban fighter and pinning another fight by the throat with his bare hands. When Byers located the American hostage, he shielded him with his own body and was wounded by Taliban fire. Other members of his team took out the remaining Taliban fighters. They rescued the doctor, but at the cost of a member of their team.

"We lost a true American hero. Nic Checque -- the guy was an amazing warrior. If it wasn't for his selfless sacrifice and if it wasn't for the team that I was with, I wouldn't be sitting here today."

Byer said the Medal of Honor comes with a heavy responsibility.

"It's not something you train for. It's not something you seek. It's something that's bestowed upon you, and it's an incredibly humbling experience, because then you become a representative for a community and for a brotherhood."

Byer said that after 11 deployments, he has no plans to retire from the SEALs. But he said he is willing to fly anywhere to collect donations for military families who have given so much.

"So many have given their lives. So many have done so many heroic things, and that's because everything we do is with a team."