Secretary of Defense Mark Esper is seeking to posthumously upgrade a Silver Star award to the Medal of Honor for Alwyn Cashe, U.S. Army sergeant who died saving others in Iraq nearly 15 years ago.

U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe, from Oviedo, Florida was on a combat patrol on October 17, 2005, in Samarra, Iraq, when a roadside bomb detonated near the Bradley fighting vehicle carrying him and his fellow soldiers. 

Cashe, 35, suffered fatal burns while repeatedly returning to the burning vehicle to pull his fellow soldiers from it, despite being on fire himself. He died on November 8 of that year at the Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas. At the time, he was awarded a Silver Star Medal.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper told members of Congress this week in a letter that Cashe’s actions “merit the award of the Medal of Honor.” If awarded, Cashe would be the first Black service member honored with the Medal of Honor in Iraq or Afghanistan.