|Staff Sergeant (SSG) Michael Byers, a local soldier from Diamond will receive the Soldier’s Medal for life saving heroics during an EF5 tornado that struck Joplin on May, 2011. The Soldier’s Medal is the highest award for valor in a non-combat situation. He will be presented the award today (July 20, 2013) at a ceremony at the Camp Crowder training site in Neosho.
According to 1st Lt. Jim Avery: "Just minutes after an EF5 tornado struck Joplin, SSG Byers along with his cousin, Brian Hamlet, responded to assist emergency responders. Risking life and limb, they came across rubble of what was once known as the Community Group Services, a local group home.It was there they found Mark Lindquist amongst the rubble. SSG Byers began rendering aid, utilizing first aid training he learned as a member of the Missouri Army National Guard. Mr. Lindquist had sustained life threatening injuries but due to SSG Byers’ quick reaction under perilous conditions, he directly contributed to saving Mr. Lindquist’s life. SSG Byers continued to assist throughout the evening, setting up a casualty collection point, administering first aid and other life saving measures that positively impacted numerous citizens of the Joplin community."
The Soldier’s Medal, authorized by an act of Congress on July 2, 1926, must involve personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy. It is the highest honor a Soldier can receive for an act of valor in a non-combat situation, held to be equal to or greater than the Distinguished Flying Cross had the act occurred in combat. Notable recipients of the Soldier's Medal include Colin Powell, who during his second tour of duty in the Vietnam War (1968--69), was injured in a helicopter crash and despite his wounds, rescued two comrades from the burning wreckage.