FW: Print pool report #1b (Medal of Honor ceremony)

From: Shawn Donnan [mailto:xxx@email.com]
Sent: Monday, February 29, 2016 12:34 PM
To: Gabriel, Brian A. Jr. EOP/WHO ; Barnes, Desiree N. EOP/WHO ; Velz, Peter T. EOP/WHO ; Allen, Jessica L. EOP/WHO
Subject: Print pool report #1b (Medal of Honor ceremony)

Please check POTUS quotes against official transcript...

President Obama entered the East Room of the White House at 11:17am with Medal of Honor recipient Navy Senior Chief Edward C. Byers Jr. and his family.

Chaplain (Captain) Michael Parisi said a brief invocation and then President Obama welcomed attendees to the White House. Among those attending the ceremony were Senior Chief Byers' wife and daughter Hannah, who is a competitive figure skater.

The president cited the Navy Seal creed, which requires secrecy from all Seal team members -  "I do not advertise the nature of my work nor seek recognition for my acts".

"That's another way of saying that standing here today in front of the entire nation is not Senior Chief Ed Byers' idea of a good time," Mr Obama said, drawing laughs.

He's the consumate quiet professional and that means there are a lot of other places he'd rather be than in front of all these cameras.  Back in Coronado for another Hell Week. Holding his breath under dark, frigid water. Spending months being cold, wet and sandy. I'm sure there are things he'd rather do."

The president went on to give a detailed runthrough of Senior Chief Byers' courage under fire during a 2012 rescue of an American doctor who had been kidnapped in Afghanistan. (Those details available here: >http://www.navy.mil/ah_online/moh/byers.html<). He also paid tribute to Petty Officer 1st Class Nicolas D. Checque, who lost his life in the same rescue raid and to the broader Special Forces community,

Members of the Special Forces were a "special breed of warrior" and helped Americans sleep soundly at night, the president said. "They teach us that humans are more important than hardware," he said.

Senior Chief Byers, who joined the Navy in 1998 as a corpman, is only the fifth Navy Seal ever to win the Medal of Honor. He has done 11 overseas deployment, nine combat tours. Besides the Medal of Honor he has won the purple heart twice and the Bronze Star five times.

Senior Chief Byers stood quietly next to the president throughout the ceremony. While Senior Chief Byers's commendation was read the president appeared to be moved and closed his eyes and nodded at one point. After the commendation was read, the president placed the award, with its pale blue ribbon around the Seal's neck from behind. He then shook his hand and clasped Senior Chief Byers' shoulder.

Chaplain (Captain) Parisi read a closing prayer and the president left the room.

--

Shawn Donnan

World Trade Editor, Financial Times

+xxx-xxx-xxxx (Direct)

+xxx-xxx-xxxx (Mobile)

Twitter: @sdonnan

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