Senior Chief Seal Edward Byers has committed his life to defending our country through his military service and also maintains a deep commitment to his faith.
Byers grew up Catholic in Grand Rapids, Ohio, and as a young man always aspired to join the military. And that is exactly what he did. Right after graduating from high school, he joined the military in 1998 -- and in 2002 he became a Navy Seal.
During his military career, Byers was deployed 11 times and on 9 combat missions. On one of his missions, Byers was part of the team that rescued an American hostage -- Dr. Dilip Joseph -- on December 8, 2012, in the Qarghah'i District of Laghman Province, Afghanistan.
Dr. Joseph was kidnapped by the enemy along with his driver and his interpreter. The three were taken on December 5th and spent three days in captivity because of these enemy insurgents. The United States knew that Dr. Joseph might be moved to another location, on December 9th, so they assembled a team of elite warriors -- Ed Byers among them. Each man who went on this mission individually volunteered to do so, understanding the gravity of the situation and the imminent danger to be encountered.
During the mission, Byers went above and beyond the call of duty, jumping on the American hostage to shield him from enemy fire and personally taking out many of the assailants.
But before that mission, Byers prayed -- just as he always did when going into battle.
"That night when we went out to do that mission to rescue and American hostage, I prayed on the way to target," explained Byers. "What that did was give me peace of mind and solace to go into that battle knowing that I've been protected."
On that mission, another Navy Seal who was part of Byers' team made the ultimate sacrifice. Nicholas Checque was killed in action -- and Byers has never stopped praying for his fallen brother in arms.
"I would say I probably would not be sitting here if it wasn't for the collective praying of my family."
"You know, unfortunately, a great American hero -- the real hero of that operation -- was Nick Cecque and he passed away on that. I'm praying overtop of him. I would hope that if that had been me, that someone would have prayed overtop of me for the repose of my soul."
Byers, 37, added, "I would say I probably would not be sitting here if it wasn't for the collective praying of my family."
Senior Chief Seal Edward Byers is still active duty and continues to serve in the Navy on some of the toughest missions for the protection of our country. His belief in God and commitment to faith keeps him going even through the darkest of days and through the most dangerous of missions.
And given the danger and risks inherent in many of Byers' missions, it's no surprise he prays especially to St. Michael the Archangel. On his first deployment to Iraq, Byers saw a soldier who was returning home with a patch to St. Michael on his gear. He was drawn to it and the soldier gave it to Byers to keep him safe on the deployment.
Since then, Byers has worn that patch on every single one of his deployments and missions. St. Michael is the patron saint of soldiers -- and Byers often prays the prayer of St. Michael's before battle:
"St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen."