In times of war, there are many stories of remarkable heroism from our service members that define courage and valor. Army Sergeant 1st Class Alwyn “Al” Cashe was a hero, in every sense of the word. Everyone knew that. Cashe, a Sanford, Florida native was awarded the Silver Star, the military’s third highest honor for individual valor. Normally, such an honor would be humbling for anyone who served. But in this instance, the awarding of a Silver Star does not do justice to the actions of heroism performed by Cashe. Those who know his story believe that Cashe deserves the Medal of Honor. That’s why Cashe’s story needs to be told… and retold.
On October 14, 2005, outside the city of Samarra, SFC Cashe was assigned to 1st Platoon, Alpha Company, which was part of the 15thInfantry Regiment at Operating Base MacKenzie, Iraq. An improvised explosive device (IED) blew up under the Bradley Fighting Vehicle (BFV) that Cashe was riding in as senior man. The blast ruptured the BFV’s gas tank, and it went up in flames. As the vehicle exploded, insurgents began attacking the convoy with small arms fire.
Confirmed reports of the incident state that Cashe was able to escape the inferno of the BFV, braving the small arms fire and the blazing vehicle, rescuing six soldiers who were trapped inside. At one point, the leaking fuel got all over Cashe, engulfing him in flames. Even though burns covered 90% of his body, Cashe risked being shot by the terrorists and continued to pull his soldiers from the wreckage.
Determined to leave no soldier behind, Cashe pulled all six of his brothers from the BFV, and made sure that they were all medevaced before he was. Despite this great act of heroism, only two of the soldiers survived. But they did survive, solely due to the efforts and sacrifice of SFC Cashe.
On November 8th, Cashe made the ultimate sacrifice, as he died from his wounds at a military hospital in Texas.
Before he perished, Cashe was visited by his sister, Kasinal Cashe White. She was informed of the IED explosion, but had no idea what actions led to her brother’s condition until a nurse at the hospital told her.
White told news reporters that Cashe’s first words to her were, “How are my boys?” The wounded enlisted leader was referring to the soldiers he had tried to save.
“I couldn’t get to them fast enough,” Cashe told his sister.
Months after the incident, and after SFC Cashe passed away, Brigadier General Gary Brito, Cashe’s commanding officer, was made aware of all the details of the incident, and the extent of SFC Cashe’s valor. Even though it was Brito who originally nominated Cashe for the Silver Star, he was the one who also began the campaign to award the fallen hero the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest military award.
Because General Brito is actively pushing for the award, an act of Congress is not needed at this time to award the MOH to Cashe. But we hope you will pass along SFC Cashe’ story, and his heroic acts, to others. His is a story needs to be told to honor Cashe’s memory and garner support for him to posthumously receive the Medal of Honor.
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Military Connection: Medal of Honor Push for Hero: By Debbie Gregory