It’s 2018. Why Hasn’t SFC Alwyn Cashe Been Awarded The Medal Of Honor?
After his Bradley Fighting Vehicle hit an IED on October 17, 2005, Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe, 35, found himself injured and soaked in fuel. However, he quickly sprang into action, exiting the gun turret where he was positioned, and immediately working to save lives as the vehicle became a raging inferno.
Cashe, a Gulf War veteran serving in Iraq on his second combat deployment since the invasion in 2003, scrambled into the Bradley, working quickly to extract the driver, who was set on fire after the IED ruptured a fuel cell and sparked the blaze.
He extinguished the flames that were attacking his fellow soldier’s body, then returned to the vehicle. This time, Cashe himself caught fire, his fuel-soaked uniform igniting with ease.
But his burning flesh didn’t stop Cashe; he continued to push forward, disregarding his personal safety in order to render aid to others. Six soldiers and a translator were in the back of the vehicle and, when the squad leader inside managed to open the rear door, Cashe was there is guide others to safety, all while still being on fire himself.
In total, entered the fiery wreckage of the Bradley a total of three times.
Once everyone was out, and a medevac arrived, Cashe insisted on being the last one to leave. Only later was it revealed that he was the most severely injured, having second- and third-degree burns covering 72 percent of his body, according to his citation.
During an interview, Gary Mills, one of the soldiers in the Bradley, stated, “Sgt. Cashe saved my life.” He added, “With all the ammo inside that vehicle and all those flames, we’d have been dead in another minute or two.”
Cashe was ultimately transported to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, though succumbed to his wounds, passing away on November 8, 2005. According to a report by Task and Purpose, Cashe never stopped asking about his soldiers prior to his death.
For his actions, Cashe was awarded the Silver Star posthumously based on the recommendation of then-Col. Gary M. Brito, his commander.
However, after learning more details about Cashe’s valiant efforts, Brito determined that Cashe deserved further recognition, launching a campaign to see the Silver Star upgraded to a Medal of Honor. In May 2011, the nomination was officially submitted to the Army.
While the path to a Medal of Honor is arduous, requiring “incontestable proof of the performance of meritorious conduct” and the approval of the president on behalf of Congress, the process, according to the Army, “can take in excess of 18 months with intense scrutiny every step of the way.”
As of this writing, it has been approximately 80 months since Cashe’s nomination was submitted.