It's 2021 And SFC Alwyn Cashe Still Hasn’t Been Awarded The Medal Of Honor. Why?

It's 2021 And SFC Alwyn Cashe Still Hasn’t Been Awarded The Medal Of Honor. Why?

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joyce kaufman started this petition to The Secretary of the Army and President Joseph Biden

Alwyn Cashe was the youngest of 10 children from a poor neighborhood outside Orlando, Florida. His father died when he was 5, and he had frequent run ins with teachers and law enforcement while struggling through high school.

The Army was a second family for him, and he became a model platoon sergeant — demanding but fair, always working alongside his men rather than issuing orders from the rear. In the best traditions of the service, he was both a role model and friend to many of the younger soldiers.

He met his wife, Tamara, in the service, and had three children before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. At age 35, Sgt. Cashe was a Desert Storm veteran, on his second tour of duty in Iraq, and one of the oldest soldiers in the 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment.

On Oct. 17, 2005 in the Iraqi province of Salahuddin, three M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles deployed from a forward operating base along Route Jaime on a route clearance operation that ran through the town of Duliaya

As they left the gate, Cashe’s vehicle broke down. He could have skipped the mission, but instead went to another Bradley and told its gunner to return with the broken down one so he could continue the mission.

Thirty minutes later, Cashe’s Bradley Fighting Vehicle struck an improvised explosive device, killing the squad’s translator and rupturing the vehicle’s fuel cell. Gunmen opened fire in a complex ambush, and the Bradley erupted in flames as it rolled to a stop.

Cashe was riding in the gun turret and soaked in fuel, but only slightly injured. He climbed into the hull, extracted the driver, SPC Howe, who was on fire, and pulled him to safety.

“Sgt. Cashe saved my life. With all the ammo inside that vehicle, and all those flames, we’d have been dead in another minute or two.”

 
There were still six soldiers in the rear troop compartment of the Bradley. Flames were coming out the weapons ports as Cashe struggled to open the rear hatch door. His own fuel-soaked uniform caught fire.

Inside the Bradley, Staff Sgt. Douglas Dodge managed to open the rear hatch, revealing the inferno inside. Dodge reported that Cashe’s sole concern was, ‘Where are the rest of the boys? We’ve got to get them out.”

Cashe’s uniform was aflame, with his skin burning everywhere except his helmet, body armor and boots. Despite this, he entered the burning Bradley three times, recovering the remaining five injured and burning soldiers with Dodge’s help.

By the time the vehicle was empty, Cashe had second and third-degree burns over 72% of his body. Still, he insisted on being the last man on the medevac flight.

Cashe was the fourth casualty through the door at Balad Air Base in Iraq. He was burned badly, and what remained of his uniform was melted to his skin. Air Force medic Alisha Turner reported that he repeatedly said, “I’m good, I’m good, take care of my guys” and wanted the staff to focus on everyone else as if they were his children.[2]

When his own family asked why he ran into the fire, knowing he would burn and likely lose his life, Cashe told them, “I had made peace with my God, but I didn’t know if my men had yet.”

Cashe suffered through painful surgeries, infections, organ failure and loss of body parts while continuing to be the consummate Platoon Sergeant to his soldiers. He died of his wounds on November 8, 2005, the last of the four soldiers to die from the attack.

10 U.S. Code 3741 - Medal of Honor

The President may award, and present in the name of Congress, a medal of honor of appropriate design, with ribbons and appurtenances, to a person who while a member of the Army, distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty—

(1) while engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;

 
Cashe was initially nominated for the Silver Star, which was awarded three days after he passed. At the time, his commanders were unaware that the incident took place while under direct enemy fire, which would have justified a higher award.

Col. Gary Brito, Cashe’s battalion commander at the time, knew little of the awards process when he recommended Cashe for the Silver Star. He was focused on keeping his men alive and dealing with the loss of his soldiers. It wasn’t until months later, after he returned from Iraq, that the lesser honor started to gnaw at him.

“We weren’t thinking about awards then. But once I had a chance to sit back and look at it again, I became convinced it was something he deserved.” He’s now leading the push to get Cashe’s honor upgraded.

Receiving the Medal of Honor typically takes years. It requires approval from the hero’s service secretary and, ultimately, the president. Commanders who submit a name need multiple witnesses to attest to the valorous action, plus dozens of pages more documenting the battle.

Military commanders can request an upgrade of awards later, and those involved in Cashe’s case have asked for consideration of the Medal of Honor.

In a memo advocating an upgrade to the award, Brigadier Gen. Steve Salazar, the brigade commander in 2005, wrote that Cashe “consciously, deliberately, willingly subjected himself to the excruciating pain and suffering of flame and smoke to save his soldiers and continue the mission. I know no braver, selfless act.”

In a letter to the Secretary of the Army, Lt. Gen. William Webster — commander of the 3rd Infantry Division in which Cashe served — called Cashe’s actions “remarkable, selfless bravery.” “Recalling a military career spanning nearly four decades, I cannot remember a story that is its equal,” he wrote. “His actions display the very virtues that lie at the heart of the Medal of Honor.”

There is no fast track for upgrading military honors. In consequence, the Army has yet to act on the recommendations.

It's 2021 And SFC Alwyn Cashe Still Hasn’t Been Awarded The Medal Of Honor. Why?

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