U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who died after rescuing six fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle that had been hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Samarra, Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005, is expected to be awarded the Medal of Honor as soon as December 16.
The Washington Post first reported the news on Wednesday, citing people close to the matter who said Cashe will be one of three U.S. soldiers injured while fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq to who President Joe Biden will award the medals. A White House announcement is forthcoming, they said.
Cashe will be the first black service member who served in Iraq or Afghanistan to receive the award.
“After 16 years of just emotional torture for us, he’ll get what he deserves,” Cashe’s sister, Kasinal Cashe White, told Washington Post. “It means that all this time, I’ve been right: My baby brother will go down in history. It means a poor boy from Oviedo [Florida] did it right.”
The other two soldiers expected to be honored are Army Green Beret Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee, who heroically fought Taliban suicide bombers at FOB Ghazni, Afghanistan in 2013; and Army Ranger Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, who was killed after stepping in the line of fire as the Taliban attacked a U.S. helicopter evacuating American soldiers in 2018.
The act would come just more than a year after former President Donald Trump signed legislation authorizing the Medal of Honor to be posthumously awarded to Cashe. Congress had to pass a bill, H.R. 8276, to waive 10 U.S.C. § 7274, a mandatory five-year time period the Medal of Honor must be awarded after the heroic act, in order for Cashe to be eligible.
After Trump’s signature on H.R. 8276, a formal recommendation from the Department of Defense was still required to be approved by the president for the military honor to be presented.
Reps. Stephanie Murphy, Michael Waltz, and Dan Crenshaw said last year they had written to then-Acting Secretary of Defense Chris Miller, urging him to make the recommendation to the President.
On Oct. 17, 2005, 35-year-old Cashe’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb in Samara, Iraq, destroying the vehicle’s fuel tank and setting it on fire — along with the soldiers inside. Cashe was not critically injured in the initial blast, and he returned to the burning vehicle to rescue six fellow soldiers, accumulating second- and third-degree burns across 70 percent of his body while being exposed to enemy gunfire. He succumbed to his injuries 22 days after the incident.
Cashe was previously awarded the Silver Star for his heroics, but difficulties with gathering witnesses and evidence of his actions complicated slowed an earlier attempt to recognize Cashe with the Medal of Honor, according to Military.com.