Exclusive: First Black Medal of Honor Recipient Since Vietnam Could Be a Fallen Iraq War Soldier
After a years-long campaign for recognition, a US soldier who gave his life to save his comrades from a burning vehicle after it was hit by a roadside bomb in Iraq is expected to become the first Black servicemember to receive the US government’s most coveted award for heroism since the Vietnam War.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first Black Pentagon leader, has signed off on Army Sergeant 1st Class Alwyn Cashe getting the Medal of Honor, according to two sources familiar with the process. According to a third source familiar with the situation, the White House is working to schedule a date for the award ceremony, and Cashe’s family has been told.
On October 17, 2005, Cashe, 35, was serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division outside Samarra, Iraq, when his Bradley Fighting Vehicle collided with an improvised explosive device, which tore through the BAV and ignited its fuel cell.
“Without regard for his personal safety,” his posthumous Silver Star award citation says, “Cashe went back inside to extricate six trapped soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter as his own fuel-soaked uniform caught fire.”
Cashe was burned in the second and third degrees over 72 percent of his body and died from his injuries three weeks later at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.
The interpreter and four troops died as a result of their wounds, while the rest of the team survived. Cashe was said to have “remained a hero throughout it all.”
“Sergeant First Class Cashe’s bravery saved the lives of six of his loved ones. The citation states, “He is truly deserving of this prize.” “His acts uphold the highest standards of military heroism and bring great honor to himself, Task Force LIBERTY, and the United States Army.”
While Cashe was immediately awarded the Silver Star, the third-highest military honor in the United States for courage in combat, his battalion commander, Brigadier General Gary Brito, later upgraded the merit to the highest Medal of Honor after he realized the. This is a condensed version of the information.