The Senate passed a bipartisan bill by unanimous consent on Tuesday that will allow for the posthumous awarding of the Medal of Honor to Army Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe.
The passage of the bill will allow for President Donald Trump to honor Cashe and his family’s sacrifice with the award 15 years after his death, by extending the five year statute of limitations for a Medal of Honor awardee after the heroic act.
On October 17, 2005, Cashe’s platoon had just left their base in Iraq when the vehicle he was in hit an improvised roadside bomb and erupted in flames.
Only slightly injured, Cashe pulled out the driver, who was on fire, and extinguished the flames. After a soldier inside opened the hatch door in the back, Cashe rushed back and pulled six more men out, not stopping even after he caught fire. More than 70 percent of his body was covered in burns, and Cashe died of his wounds three weeks later.
Before he succumbed to his injuries, he told Stars and Stripes, “I had made peace with God, but I didn’t know if my men had yet.”
Cashe was awarded the Silver Star for his heroism, but later, his battalion commander, then-Col. Gary Brito, and Cashe’s family fought to have it upgraded to the Medal of Honor. A number of veterans also began a grassroots movement to push for Cashe to be awarded the Medal of Honor.
In 2018, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), who represents the district in which Cashe was born and raised, reached out to the family to help. Separately, Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), an Army Green Beret, and Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX), a Navy SEAL veteran, had been working on it, too. Together, they pushed for then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper to review Cashe’s case.
Esper, in September, agreed that Cashe deserved the Medal of Honor but told them they would have to pass a law extending the statute of limitations first. Murphy, Waltz, and Crenshaw introduced a bill that would extend the statute of limitations, which passed in the House last week to much celebration among the military community.
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), along with Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rick Scott (R-FL), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) then introduced the bill in the Senate.
“Mr. Cashe’s incredible bravery on the battlefield in the service of his fellow Americans is worthy of the Medal of Honor,” Cotton said in a statement.
Although Cashe would be the first black soldier to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the post-9/11 wars, his older sister Kasinal Cashe White told reporters earlier this month that this award has nothing to do with race.
“I won’t allow anybody to make it a race thing because he did what he did, not because he was black,” she said. “He did what he did because he was a soldier and loved his men. And they loved him in return. They reciprocated that.”
Murphy, Crenshaw and Waltz expressed gratitude for the Senate finally passing the bill.
“I am so grateful the Senate passed our bill to pave the way for the President to award Alwyn Cashe the Medal of Honor,” said Murphy. “We are now very close to recognizing this unbelievably heroic soldier, who died saving his men, with our nation’s highest award for combat valor—which he earned beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
“We are one step closer to properly recognizing Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe for his bravery in risking his own life to save his fellow soldiers,” said Crenshaw. “He is deserving of the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for bravery on the battlefield, and we urge President Trump to quickly sign our bill into law to make sure that happens.”
“It’s not every day you read an extraordinary story like Alwyn Cashe’s,” Waltz said. “His bravery in the face of danger has inspired so many already—and this is a significant step forward to properly recognize him for his heroism. I’m incredibly proud to see both sides of the aisle, in the House and the Senate, come together to honor Cashe’s legacy and award him the Medal of Honor.”
BREAKING: The Senate has taken the final step to award SFC #AlwynCashe the Medal of Honor!
Cashe's bravery in the face of danger is beyond worthy of this award.
So proud to see both the House & the Senate come together to recognize this hero.
Next stop: President Trump's desk!
— Rep. Michael Waltz (@RepMichaelWaltz) November 10, 2020