US & Canada

US Navy Seal honoured for Afghan hostage raid

President Obama awards Edward Byers the Medal of Freedom Image copyright AP
Image caption Mr Byers was part of a team that rescued an American civilian being held hostage

A Navy Seal who helped rescue an American civilian being held hostage in Afghanistan has been awarded the nation's highest military honour.

Edward Byers is the first active duty member of the Navy to receive the Medal of Honor in four decades, for his role in the raid.

President Barack Obama called Mr Byers a "consummate, quiet professional" during a ceremony at the White House.

Mr Byers saved the hostage after another Navy Seal was shot and killed.

Dilip Joseph, an American doctor, had been abducted, along with his interpreter.

The US Department of Defense has said Mr Byers, a senior chief in the Navy, threw himself on top of Mr Joseph to shield him from gunfire.

At the same time, he was pinning a guard against a wall with a hand "around the enemy's throat". Another Navy Seal then shot the guard.

Mr Obama said the ceremony is a "rare opportunity" for the country to meet military members like those from Mr Byers' elite Seal Team Six.

Profile: Seal Team Six

"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," said Mr Obama.

Mr Byers said he will continue serving in the US Navy as a Seal.

"I'm going to take whatever job or mission is next for me," he told the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Byers, the sixth Navy Seal to receive a Medal of Honor, grew up in Ohio and has been deployed overseas 11 times, in nine combat tours.