The National Medal of Honor Day is celebrated each year on March 25th to honor our Medal of Honor recipients’ sacrifices and heroic efforts. The Medal of Honor is the highest military distinction awarded to U.S. military personnel by the President of the United States for extraordinary heroism acts beyond the call of duty.  There are three versions of the Medal of Honor: Army, Air Force, and the Navy. The Medal of Honor for the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard are awarded the Navy’s version.

The History of the National Medal of Honor Day

On March 25, 1863, Edwin Stanton, the Secretary of War, presented the first-ever Medals of Honor to six members who participated in the Great Locomotive Chase, an American Civil War raid, in April 1862. Among the recipients were William Bensinger, Elihu H. Mason, Robert Buffum, William Pittenger, Jacob Parrott, and William H. H. Reddick.  Since then, 3468 Medals of Honor have been awarded to Soldiers, Airmen, Sailors, Coast Guards, and Marines. The country has been celebrating the National Medal of Honor Day since 1991, when George H. W. Bush signed Public Law 101-564 on November 15, 1990, which the 101st United States Congress passed.

The Story of Edward C. Byers, Jr. – A Medal of Honor Recipient

Chief Edward C. Byers Jr. is a retired United States Navy SEAL. He was born on August 4, 1979, in Toledo, Ohio. He received the Medal of Honor on February 29, 2016, for his courage while rescuing a civilian in Afghanistan in 2012.

Military men during an encounter with the enemy

Chief Byers was part of the Hostage Rescue Force Team Member deployed in Afghanistan from December 8 to 9, 2012, for Operation Enduring Freedom. As the Force approached the target building, an enemy sentinel identified them and rushed inside to alert the fellow abductors. Chief Byers ran to the door of the target building along with his team. He stood at the entrance, wholly imperiled to opponent fire, while splitting down 6 layers of bulky blankets attached to the inside walls and ceiling to clear the route for the Force. Chief Byers was utterly aware of the impending threat and fearlessly rushed into the room and fought an opponent guard who aimed an AK-47 at him. He then tackled another male enemy who had darted towards the corner of the room. Chief Byers confirmed the man was not the hostage and bravely fought him in a hand-to-hand struggle.

While other Force members searched for the hostage, Chief Byers heard a voice answer in English and rushed toward it. He leaped over the American hostage and guarded him against the fire inside the room. He shielded the hostage with his own body and attacked a guard with his bare hands, restraining him until a teammate could eliminate him.

Chief Byers’s bravery, courage, and boldness under fire saved the lives of the hostage and several members of the Force. His courageous fighting spirit and steadfast commitment to duty allowed him to uphold the United States Military’s highest tradition. In September 2019, Chief Byers retired after 21 years of service at the Washington Navy Yard. He is and will always be remembered on National Medal of Honor Day.

Honor National Medal of Honor Day Recipients by Donating to We Are One!

National Medal of Honor Day is a day where we all should take out some time from our busy lives to thank the men and women like Edward C. Byers Jr., who have made sacrifices for our protection and those who have died serving our country. This auspicious occasion was established to foster an appreciation for the U.S. Military, specifically for the highest military award recipients. These brave individuals have shown courage and risked their lives numerous times for our safety. Many have also died to save their fellow team members.

Give back to the U.S. Military service members, Veterans, and their families this National Medal of Honor Day by donating to We Are One! Incorporation, CA. Show your appreciation for their heroic efforts by making their lives easier. We accept monetary donations, clothing items, and non-perishable food items for military communities in SoCal to stabilize military families’ lives. To donate towards this noble cause, visit our website and participate in small acts of kindness today.