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Army hero Alwyn Cashe could receive Medal of Honor under new bill

Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, in an undated photo. Cashe died Nov. 8, 2005, three weeks after sacrificing his life to save his Soldiers from a burning vehicle. (U.S. Army/Released)
September 17, 2020

Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Michael Waltz (R-FL) and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would clear the way for U.S. Army SFC Alwyn Cashe to receive the Medal of Honor, posthumously, by waiving a requirement that the medal is awarded within five years of the heroic actions.

On Oct. 17, 2005, Cashe’s vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Samara, Iraq. Cashe was not injured in the initial blast, but he braved enemy gunfire to return to the burning vehicle to rescue six soldiers, accumulating second- and third-degree burns across 70 percent of his body. Cashe died from his wounds 22 days later.

If Cashe were to be awarded the Medal of Honor, he would be the first black veteran of the war on terror to receive the award.

On Wednesday, Waltz tweeted, “SFC Alwyn Cashe is a Florida & American hero who lost his life saving fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq. I’m proud to introduce legislation today with @RepStephMurphy and @RepDanCrenshaw to award Cashe the Medal of Honor for his heroism.”

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Waltz is the first Army Green Beret to serve in Congress while Crenshaw is a U.S. Navy SEAL and Murphy is a former civilian employee for the Department of Defense. Crenshaw, Murphy and Waltz previously wrote a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper proposing the idea of upgrading the Silver Star that Cashe received in recognition of his heroics to the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military decoration.

“SFC Cashe saved the lives of multiple soldiers, but suffered severe burns in the process and ultimately died from those burns. SFC Cashe has become something of a legend in military circles, the object of profound respect and even reverence,” the lawmakers wrote in their initial letter to Esper.

Esper agreed with the idea of awarding Cashe with the Medal of Honor, but noted Congress would need to act to waive the requirement that prevents the medal being awarded outside of a five-year time limit from when the heroic acts occurred.

The new bill, H.R. 8276, introduced by Murphy, has not been fully drafted, but according to Military.com, the legislation would waive the five-year time limit and open the way for the military to recognize Cashe’s sacrifice with the Medal of Honor.

Cashe’s family has long sought the upgrade to the Medal of Honor out of devotion to his memory. Cashe’s sister, Kasinal White, told Military.com that if the upgrade is eventually approved, “Oh my God, there is going to be a party, the likes of which you have never seen before.”

Alejandro Villanueva, a former Army Ranger who is now playing football for the Pittsburgh Steelers, recently chose to honor Cashe’s memory, by taping Cashe’s name to his football helmet. Villanueva decided to wear Cashe’s name, while many other NFL players have decided to wear the names of black men killed in interactions with police.