President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor on Monday to Navy SEAL Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator Edward Byers Jr.
Byers Jr. is the first living and active duty member of the Navy to receive America’s highest military honor in four decades.
The 36-year-old was awarded for his service while on a rescue mission to save an American civilian hostage in Afghanistan in 2012.
During the raid, the SEAL used his body to shield and protect hostage Dr. Dilip Joseph, as he simultaneously subdued another enemy in the ordeal.
“Ed saved the lives of several teammates and that hostage,” President Obama said during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
Obama hailed Byers Jr. as a “consummate, quiet professional” as the nation owes him a “debt of gratitude.”
"Today's ceremony is truly unique, a rare opportunity for the American people to get a glimpse of a special breed of warrior who so often serves in the shadows," the president added.
The senior chief was born in Ohio and entered the Navy in 1998.