OVIEDO, Fla. – Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, the Oviedo soldier who died while rescuing fellow soldiers from a burning building in Iraq, will be awarded the Medal of Honor.
As first reported in the Washington Post, Cashe and two other soldiers who died while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, will receive posthumous medals from President Biden. The Post’s story was based on four current and former U.S. officials who spoke anonymously.
The White House announced Friday that a formal ceremony will be held on Dec. 16.
Kasinal Cashe White, Cashe’s sister, had not officially heard from the White House on Thursday, but says she will be there.
“We will be at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue,” White said. “We will be wherever President Biden tells us to be if I have to start walking right now.”
Cashe was serving in Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005, when a roadside bomb exploded next to the vehicle he used while on patrol.
He ran back into the vehicle to save trapped soldiers inside, he suffered burns to about 70% of his body and died from his injuries.
Cashe was 35 years old.
“He was a heck of a man because I don’t know if I could’ve done that. I know he loved his “boys” as he says, they were his extended family,” White said.
U.S. Rep. Mike Waltz, who represents Florida’s 6th congressional district, said Cashe exemplifies what it means to put the lives of other Americans ahead of your own.
“The story of his heroism running inside a burning vehicle, not once but three times, to save his fellow soldiers ... what I don’t think is as well-known is that he was evacuated to the military hospital literally with his uniform burnt to his body,” Waltz said.
Waltz said hospital nurses recounted Cashe asking about the status of his fellow soldiers as they treated his injuries.
The Medal of Honor usually must be awarded within five years of the act that merits the award, but Congress frequently passes waivers to that rule, which is what happened last year in a bipartisan bill signed by then-President Trump. This allowed the Dept. of Defense to formally recommend to the president that Cashe be awarded the medal.
“This has been a long hard battle, probably too long, but really thrilled to work with (U.S. Rep. Stephanie) Murphy on this. We got it over the goal lines,” Waltz said. “Some important exemptions in the law that had to happen in the last administration—it had the support of the last administration— (and) we kind of ran out of time there and (now I’m) thrilled to see this administration pick it up and give his family the recognition they deserve.”
Murphy detailed how transitioning between presidential administrations delayed the passage of this legislation distinguishing “a true embodiment” of a hero, who under fire and in a fuel-soaked uniform made many trips to pull his fellow soldiers out of a burning vehicle.
“I’m really hopeful, but after years of working on this process, I’m not going to celebrate until we get the official word out of the White House,” Murphy said.
Waltz, a Republican, who worked with Murphy, a Democrat, to ensure Cashe got the honor he deserved said the shared goal transcends party lines.
“This isn’t a political issue at all,” Waltz said. “This is about highlighting for all Americans—regardless of race, religion, creed, social-economic background—that when we have fellow Americans stepping up and saving the lives of others, these are the types of people we should put on a pedestal ... Sgt. Cashe is the type of person that every elementary school child should be learning about as a true American hero and what it means to sacrifice for others.”
Cashe will be the first Black service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq or Afghanistan.