Alwyn Cashe Slated for Medal of Honor Following Senate Action

An honor that's long overdue

Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe
Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe.
US Army

Sometimes valiant and heroic actions are appropriately honored in a timely manner. Sometimes, though, things take a little longer. In the case of Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, the nation may finally be about to honor his actions in Iraq in 2005 with the Medal of Honor, a process that’s been long in the works by those who knew and served with Cashe.

An article on the U.S. Army’s website from 2014 explains exactly what Cashe did. In 2005, Cashe and other soldiers were traveling through Samarra, Iraq when their vehicle was damaged by an IED. The explosion, writes Nick Duke, “severed the rear ramp cable and drenched Cashe in fuel.” Soon, the fuel had ignited.

This didn’t stop Cashe from engaging in a heroic act, however. Duke writes, “Cashe helped to remove all six Soldiers from the vehicle and also the body of an interpreter killed by the IED, all while under small arms fire. Through it all, his body continued to burn.”

Cashe then remained on site while the troops he’d helped out of the vehicle were evacuated. Tragically, the injuries he incurred would eventually cost him his life; he died several weeks later at San Antonio Military Medical Center.

That all of this took place in 2005 does raise one question: how is it that Cashe didn’t receive a Medal of Honor at the time? Saving the lives of multiple people while suffering from a grievous injury would seem like the very definition of valor and bravery, after all.

An article at The Washington Post by Dan Lamothe provides some context as to why this has taken so long. “His commanding officer, then-Lt. Col. Gary Brito, later said that he did not initially have a full understanding for what Cashe did and has sought an upgrade for years,” Lamothe writes. Cashe had previously been approved for the Silver Star.

Before the legislation that passed the Senate, a Medal of Honor had to be awarded within five years of the actions cited in the honor. However, with enthusiastic and bipartisan support, that requirement has been removed — hopefully leading to a long-overdue honor for Sgt. 1st Class Cashe.

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