Sgt. Alwyn Cashe was one of three soldiers awarded the prestigious Medal of Honor by President Joe Biden on Thursday for going “above and beyond the call of duty” during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
According to ABC News, the Medal of Honor is the United States’ highest military honor for valor. Cashe is the first Black Medal of Honor recipient since the September 11 attacks, receiving the honor posthumously.
During the event, Biden remarked, “Today, we honor three outstanding veterans whose deeds represent the finest principles of selfless devotion.” “We also commemorate the great sacrifices made by our military personnel and their families in the service of our country.”
The president went on to say, “We remember the fortitude and sacrifices of these military families, caregivers, and survivors.” “And we remember and recommit our sacred commitment to those who have served in uniform for this country.”
Cashe died in November 2005 from serious burn injuries he received while rescuing other soldiers trapped inside a vehicle after a roadside bomb exploded next to his fighting vehicle while on patrol in Samarra, Iraq, on October 17 of that year, according to Face2Face Africa.
Cashe, 35, was not injured by the explosion at first, but when rescuing the trapped soldiers, he received second and third-degree burns over more than 70% of his body. The Florida native died in the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, after serving in the first Gulf War and two later tours in Iraq. Those who were with him reported that even on his deathbed, he never stopped asking about his fellow soldiers, four of whom perished in a Texas hospital as a result of the explosion’s burns.
Tamara Cashe, Cashe’s wife, attended the White House ceremony on Thursday and accepted the posthumous medal on the slain soldier’s behalf. Kasinal Cashe-White, Cashe’s sister, characterized her brother as “very rambunctious,” a “daredevil,” and “a good kid all around” in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday.
She further stated that her brother’s honor “means everything” to their family. “We had to say goodbye to our brother.” He is irreplaceable. “However, this honor ensures that his name and legacy will go on,” Kasinal remarked.
Cashe received the Silver Star posthumously for his heroic rescue efforts despite being shot at. According to Face2Face Africa, despite the discomfort from the fire that burned his uniform and body armor off, Cashe repeatedly entered the blazing van to save his men.
Col. Gary M. Brito, the battalion commander who recommended Cashe for the Silver Star award, would subsequently learn of these exact specifics of Cashe’s conduct. He subsequently began a campaign to elevate his Silver Star to the Medal of Honor. Brito and the 3rd Infantry Division, according to Kasinal, have been with them “every step of the way” since then.
“I don’t think so,” Kasinal remarked when asked if race played a role in the delay in awarding the medal to her brother. It was only a matter of timing, I believe.”
“Did I really desire it back in 2005?” Yes. Would I have been content back in 2007? Yes. Would I have been overjoyed if it had happened sooner? Yes. But I’m simply overjoyed that it’s finally happening,” she continued.
Cashe was in charge of the truck that caught fire during the attack, according to the White House. While attempting to put out the fire and save his fellow officers, he sustained severe burn injuries. Despite his horrific injuries, he continued to approach the truck many times. While being fired at, he also assisted four soldiers in getting to safety.
At the ceremony, Biden remarked, “He went back into the inferno for the third time and rescued everyone out of that inferno.” “That was his code; he was a true believer in his Third Infantry Division. On his watch, no soldier would be left behind.”
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, who died in a firefight in Afghanistan in 2018, was also honored posthumously for his bravery. According to the White House, Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee was also decorated for combating Taliban suicide bombers in Afghanistan in 2013.