History Mighty Heroes

MoH Monday: Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe

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Sergeant First Class Cashe memorial
Numerous members of the Cashe family unveil a plaque at a memorialization ceremony for SFC Alwyne Cashe. His award would later be upgraded to the Medal of Honor.

Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe is a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor. He earned his award for courageous action during the Iraq War.

Sergeant First Class Cashe Background

SFC Alwyn Cashe was a highly decorated Army veteran. He served America with distinction in various military campaigns. Born in Sanford, Florida, in 1970, he joined the Army after completing high school and served in the Gulf War and the Kosovo Defense Campaign.

However, his final deployment to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom would earn him the Medal of Honor. Cashe’s bravery and selflessness in the face of danger during a mission in Samarra, Iraq, in 2005 have made him a revered figure in the military community and beyond.

Medal of Honor Action

On the evening of October 17, 2005, Sergeant First Class Cashe patrolled an area of Samarra, Iraq, with his fellow service members. Suddenly, a group of insurgents opened fire on the soldiers and threw an explosive device into their vehicle. Before Cashe and his team could escape, the device detonated, and the vehicle burst into flames. Cashe eventually crawled out and escaped the fire. However, he soon discovered several of his his unit were trapped. He quickly ran around and freed the driver, whose uniform had caught fire. Cashe and another servicemember carried the driver to a secure location. Then, he ran back to the vehicle to rescue the remaining soldiers. As he worked to save his comrades, his uniform caught fire, and Cashe began to suffer severe burns. Nevertheless, he continued to evacuate his team, even as insurgents opened fire.

One of SFC Cashe’s comrades heard bullets ricocheting off the sides of the vehicle. He engaged the enemy with his rifle, allowing Cashe to continue his evacuation effort. Cashe successfully pulled six soldiers from the damaged vehicle during the conflict. He refused immediate medical treatment, insisting that the medical evacuation team secure his injured comrades first.

Eventually, the Army flew Cashe to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. Unfortunately, he died from his injuries a few weeks later, on November 8, 2005. However, he saved six service members during the battle in Samarra.

Sergeant First Class Cashe
His peers said that Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, a former drill sergeant, dedicated his career to helping fellow Soldiers. It was his concern for his teammates that drove him to make the ultimate sacrifice on Oct. 20, 2005 in Iraq. The Soldier pulled out six Soldiers and an Iraqi translator from a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

Upgraded Valor Medal

SFC Cashe’s heroic actions and sacrifices did not go unnoticed, and his recognition continued to grow even after his death. Many people, including military officials and lawmakers, believed that Alwyn Cashe deserved the Medal of Honor for his actions. Some felt his Silver Star not reflective of his heroism and sacrifice. Military officials and lawmakers were among those who pushed for a review of his case for an upgrade.

In 2020, the DoD announced that it would conduct a thorough review of Cashe’s case. The review considered new evidence, including witness statements. It was led by a panel of experts, which ultimately recommended the upgrade. In November 2020, Congress voted to approve the upgrade of SFC Cashe’s award. He is the first Black service member from the Iraq War to receive the Medal of Honor.

On December 16, 2021, President Joe Biden presented Cashe’s widow Tamara with the Medal of Honor during a special ceremony at the White House. The president praised Cashe’s heroic actions and selflessness, describing him as “a true American hero.” The presentation of the Medal of Honor to SFCashe was a significant moment in recognizing his bravery and the sacrifices he made for his country.