Acting Defense Secretary Chris Miller has sent his endorsement to the White House for the awarding of the Medal of Honor to Army Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe, who died in 2005 after repeatedly rushing into a burning vehicle to rescue his soldiers after a roadside bomb attack in Iraq, a senior defense official told Breitbart News on Monday.
Miller’s endorsement is one of the final steps before Alwyn Cashe can finally be awarded the nation’s highest military honor for bravery — after a 15-year fight by his family, a small bipartisan group of lawmakers, and the military and veteran community.
Cashe was 35 years old when he died pulling each of his soldiers from a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle in Iraq on October 17, 2005.
His platoon had just left their base in Iraq when their vehicle hit an improvised roadside bomb and erupted in flames. Only slightly injured, Cashe pulled out the driver, who was burning, and extinguished the flames. After a soldier inside pushed open the vehicle’s hatch door, 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. He was hurt the most badly but insisted on being medically evacuated last.
In the hospital, 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 first awarded the Silver Star for his heroism. However, his then-battalion commander, Army Col. Gary Brito, fought to have it upgraded to the Medal of Honor. Cashe’s older sister, Kasinal Cashe White, also began doing research and learned that her baby brother was qualified for the upgraded award. However, by then, the five-year statute of limitations for the Medal of Honor since Cashe’s heroic deed had passed.
But White and fellow veterans kept pushing. Just when they thought they had exhausted every option, lawmakers who learned of Cashe’s story stepped in.
Together, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), who represented Cashe’s hometown district, Army Green Beret lieutenant colonel Rep. Mike Waltz (R-FL), and Navy SEAL veteran Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) asked then-Defense Secretary Mark Esper to review Cashe’s case. Esper in August told them he agreed Cashe deserved the Medal of Honor but said Congress would need to pass a law extending the statute of limitations first.
Murphy and Waltz — with help from Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) in the Senate — fought hard to push the bill through a bitterly divided Congress that was stalled at the time over Judge Amy Barrett Coney’s nomination. Congress finally passed the bill in November. However, shortly after, Esper was fired.
A senior defense official confirmed to Breitbart News that Miller recently pushed it through to the White House, where it now heads to President Donald Trump for approval.
Trump in December signed Congress’s bill extending the statute of limitations for Cashe and is likely to approve and issue the award in the coming weeks.