The U.S. Senate approved, in November 2020, a bipartisan bill (H.R. 8276) introduced by U.S. Representatives Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), and Michael Waltz (R-FL) authorizing the President of the United States to posthumously award the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe for actions in Iraq on October 17, 2005.
“We are one step closer to properly recognizing Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe for his bravery in risking his own life to save his fellow soldiers,” Rep. Crenshaw had said. “He is deserving of the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for bravery on the battlefield, and we urge President Trump to quickly sign our bill into law to make sure that happens.”
“It’s not every day you read an extraordinary story like Alwyn Cashe’s,” Rep. Waltz had added. “His bravery in the face of danger has inspired so many already — and this is a significant step forward to recognize him for his heroism properly. I’m incredibly proud to see both sides of the aisle, in the House and the Senate, come together to honor Cashe’s legacy and award him the Medal of Honor.”
When SOFREP reported on the passing of the bill, there was a sense from those close to the effort to get SFC Cashe recognized that the ceremony could come at any moment.
In the case of SFC Alwyn C. Cashe, President Donald Trump, in December 2020, signed legislation that waives the five-year limit for awarding the military’s highest medal for valor in combat.
The then-White House team coordinating on the official announcement for the Medal of Honor determined that a potential ceremony wouldn’t come until after the inauguration in January 2021.
It is now March 2021. What are we waiting for, Mr. President?
The White House team did not provide any reasoning for why the potential ceremony is being delayed.
Alwyn Cashe’s Silver Star citation states that:
“On the evening of October 17, 2005, Sergeant First Class Cashe’s heroic actions saved the lives of six of his fellow soldiers. At approximately 1920 hours, 1st Platoon of Alpha Company, 1-15 Infantry departed FOB MACKENZIE to conduct a route clearance in the city of Daliaya, Iraq.
Along Route JAIME, the lead Bradley Fighting Vehicle, of which Sergeant First Class Cashe was gunner, struck a victim detonated pressure-switch IED. The blast ignited the fuel cell on the vehicle causing fuel to spew everywhere.
The vehicle came to a stop and immediately erupted in flames. Sergeant First Class Cashe was initially slightly injured and drenched with fuel. Despite his condition, he bravely managed to get out of the gunner’s hatch, crawl down the BFV and assist the driver out of the driver’s hatch.
The driver had been burned, and Sergeant First Class Cashe extinguished his flames. The following minutes were crucial. Six soldiers and a translator were in the back of the Bradley. Flames had engulfed the entire vehicle from the bottom and were coming out of every portal. The squad leader inside the vehicle managed to open the troop hatch door to help the soldiers escape.
Without regard for his personal safety, Sergeant First Class Cashe rushed to the back of the vehicle, reaching into the hot flames, and started pulling out his soldiers. The flames gripped his fuel-soaked uniform. Flames quickly spread all over his body. Despite the terrible pain, Sergeant First Class Cashe placed the injured soldier on the ground and returned to the burning vehicle to retrieve another burning soldier; all the while, he was still on fire.
A crew from a trail Bradley arrived within moments and assisted with CASEVAC. During all this and with severe burns, Sergeant First Class Cashe bravely continued to take control of the chaos. Within minutes, the company First Sergeant was on the scene and began to evacuate the seriously injured soldiers. One of which was Sergeant First Class Cashe.
In the end, the national translator was killed in action, and 10 soldiers were injured. Seven of the 10 were very seriously injured.
Sergeant First Class Cashe stayed a hero through it all.
His injuries were the worst as he suffered from 2d and 3d degree burns over 72 percent of his body. Sergeant First Class Cashe’s heroic actions saved the lives of six of his beloved soldiers. He is truly deserving of this award. His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, Task Force LIBERTY, and the United States Army.”
When Cashe arrived at the U.S. Air Force Theater Hospital at Balad Air Base in Iraq, he was still fully conscious. Alisha Turner, then an Air Force medic, was part of the team that treated Cashe and three of his wounded comrades. Cashe, she remembers, was the fourth casualty through the door. He was burned badly. What remained of his uniform was melted to his skin. Turner’s team rushed Cashe into the ER, where he started fighting to get off the gurney.
“He just kept saying, ‘I’m good, I’m good, take care of my guys,’ Turner said. “He wanted us to focus on everyone else. It was as if they were his children.”
Kasinal Cashe White, the sergeant’s sister, recalled to The Times that she stayed at her brother’s bedside while he was in the hospital, and the first thing he asked when he was able to speak was, “How are my boys?” He then broke down in tears, saying he “couldn’t get to them fast enough.”
There have been six Medals of Honor awarded for the war in Iraq, all of them posthumously. Eighteen have awarded for the fighting in Afghanistan. If SFC Cashe is awarded the Medal of Honor it would make him the first Black soldier to receive the award in either the Iraq or Afghanistan war.