Michael E. Thornton

U.S. Navy Seals

Michael E. Thornton, a native of South Carolina, enlisted in the United States Navy in 1967. He entered basic training at the Naval Training Center, San Diego, California.

Subsequently, he was selected for specialized training in Basic Underwater Demolition training in Coronado, California and the Navy's elite SEAL community.

Upon successful completion of training, he was assigned to SEAL team ONE based in Coronado, California from 1968-1974. During the period of October 1968 to January 1973, he completed several tours of duty in the Republic of Vietnam and Thailand.

During this time, he was the recipient of numerous awards. His most prestigious decoration 

was bestowed for heroic actions on his last tour of duty in Vietnam which resulted in saving 

the life of a fellow SEAL. For this action during a reconnaissance and intelligence gathering 

mission, he received this Nation's highest award, the CONGRESSIONAL MEDAL OF HONOR.

From 1974 to 1977 he served as an instructor at the SEAL training command in Coronado, California.

In 1977 he transferred to SEAL team TWO in Little Creek, Virginia where he was the senior enlisted

(man) in an operational platoon and also served as an instructor for SEAL Basic Indoctrination. In

1978 he deployed to the United Kingdom to serve two years with the Royal Marine British Special 

Boat Squadron in an exchange billet.

Upon completion of his successful tour with the British, he returned to help establish and operate

with SEAL Team SIX. Here he was instrumental in developing new and innovative operational 

 techniques and hardware that formed the foundation for future unique special operations missions.

In June 1982, Lieutenant Thornton received his commission as a United States Navy Ensign.

He completed Basic Officer Diving and Salvage Training and immediately thereafter was

assigned as the Officer-in-Charge of the Second Class Dive School at the Little Creek

Amphibious Base in Norfolk, Virginia. In January 1986, he reported to the USS Edenton

(ATS-1) as the First Lieutenant and Diving and Salvage Officer for Combat Support Squadron

Eight, at Little Creek. In April 1990, Lieutenant Thornton reported as Bravo Company

Commander where he coordinated a rapid response deployment in support of


Lieutenant Thornton's personal decorations include:
- The Congressional Medal of Honor
- Silver Star
- (3) Bronze Star Medals with Combat "V"
- Purple Heart
- Meritorious Service Medal
- (3) Navy Commodation Medals with Combat "V"
- Navy Achievement Medal
- The Combat Action Ribbon with Gold Star
- The Vietnamese Service Medal with one Silver Star and
- Two Bronze Stars
- as well as, numerous unit citations

In May 1992, Lieutenant Thornton retired being the last Congressional Medal of Honor

recipient serving on active duty in the Navy. 

Senior Chief Special
Warfare Operator (SEAL)

Edward C. Byers Jr.

SOCS Edward Byers was born in Toledo, Ohio in 1979. He grew up in Grand Rapids, Ohio. In 1997, he graduated from Otsego High School where he played varsity soccer. Byers joined the Navy in September 1998, and subsequently attended Boot Camp and Corpsman “A” School in Great Lakes, Illinois

Byers spent four years as a Hospital Corpsman. In 1998, he was assigned to Great Lakes Naval Hospital. In 1999, he served with 2nd Battalion, 2nd marines in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, where he deployed with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard USS Austin (LPD 4). During deployment he earned his Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) and Fleet Marine Force (FMF) warfare devices.

In 2002, Byers attended Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL (BUD/S) training and graduated with Class 242. After graduation, he attended the Special Operations Combat Medic (SOCM) course. Byers was then assigned to an East Coast SEAL Team.

Byers has 11 overseas deployments with nine combat tours. His personal decorations include the Bronze Star with Valor (five awards), the Purple Heart (two awards), the Joint Service Commendation Medal with Valor, the Navy Commendation Medal (three awards, one with Valor), the Combat Action ribbon (two awards), and the Good Conduct Medal (five awards).

Byers was awarded the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama during a White House ceremony February 29, 2016 for his efforts during a hostage rescue while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in 2012. He is only the 11th living service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for bravery displayed in Afghanistan.

Byers hold a National Paramedics License and also studied Strategic Studies and Defense Analysis at Norwich University, where he will earn a Bachelor of Science in early 2016. Byers is married and has a daughter.

Navy Medal of Honor Facts

Senior Chief Byers is the 6th Navy SEAL in history to receive the Medal of Honor.

Senior Chief Byers is one of only eight living Navy Medal of Honor recipients. There are 78 living recipients total.

There have been 745 Medals of Honor awarded to Navy personnel. (308 of those were for actions during the Civil War)

Only two Navy service members have received the Medal of Honor for actions subsequent to the Vietnam War, and both of those awards were posthumous. (Lieutenant Michael Murphy and Petty Officer Michael Monsoor, both SEALs)

The most recent Navy recipient of the Medal of Honor was Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Monsoor, who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President George W. Bush on Apr. 8, 2008.

The most recent living Navy recipient of the Medal of Honor was Robert Ingram, who left the Navy in 1968, and was later awarded the Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton on Jul. 10, 1998 for actions during the Vietnam War.

Senior Chief Byers is the first living active duty member of the U.S. Navy to receive the Medal of Honor since Apr. 6, 1976, the late Rear Admiral James Stockdale and Lieutenant Thomas Norris (also a SEAL) each received the decoration from President Gerald Ford.

Senior Chief Byers is the first living active duty enlisted member of the U.S. Navy to receive the Medal of Honor since Petty Officer Michael Thornton (also a SEAL) was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Richard Nixon on Oct., 15 1973.

This is the 14th Medal of Honor awarded for actions in Afghanistan. Including Senior Chief Byers, 11 of those 14 awards were to living recipients. Four Medals of Honor were awarded posthumously for actions in Iraq.