Posted in Military

SFC Alwyn C. Cashe

Since being part of the 2010 Medal of Honor Convention, I have read and published scores of narratives for valor medals. While the actions of these men are all truly incredible, the actions of Sergeant First Class Alwyn C. Cashe in Iraq on Oct. 17, 2005 are astonishing. Especially considering he was only awarded the Silver Star.

Cashe occupied the gunner’s turret of a Bradley fighting vehicle when it was hit by an IED. Cashe managed to escape the vehicle, but the vehicle’s fuel cell had ruptured and ignited, setting fire to the men stuck inside. Cashe was covered in fuel, and insurgent small-arms fire was targeting the Bradley. Cashe rescued the driver, who was on fire, and opened the hatch to rescue the burning soldiers still inside. His uniform caught fire, but he continued his rescue efforts – even running into the inferno to pull out the medic.

Of those wounded in the attack, Cashe’s burns were the most severe. He succumbed to his wounds on Nov. 8, 2005. I run into burning buildings for a living as a fireman. But I cannot imagine running into a burning vehicle while soaked in fuel and on fire myself to rescue multiple victims. This man did, he died doing so, and was only awarded the military’s third-highest medal for valor. Lyndon Johnson got a Silver Star for just riding on an airplane.

Cashe’s Silver Star citation can be read in full here.

Blackfive has more on SFC Cashe here, here, and here.

Not to take away from the honor and tradition of our military decorations, but sometimes cloth and metal don’t quite seem sufficient to recognize people like Sergeant First Class Alwyn C. Cashe. I expect that his medal will be upgraded. If not, it is time to overhaul the awards process.

Posted in Real American Heroes

Alwyn C. Cashe Silver Star Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918 (amended by an act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Silver Star (Posthumously) to Sergeant First Class Alwyn C. Cashe, United States Army, for exceptionally valorous achievement following an improvised explosive device explosion on 17 October 2005, while serving with Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division, during combat operations in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Sergeant First Class Cashe’s disregard for his own safety proved evident when he saved the lives of six fellow soldiers despite his serious injuries. His bravery is in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, Task Force DRAGON, the SLEDGEHAMMER Brigade, Task Force LIBERTY, and the United States Army.

NARRATIVE TO ACCOMPANY AWARD: Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe heroically distinguished himself by exceptionally valorous conduct in the face of the enemy of the United States as a Platoon Sergeant in 1st Platoon, Alpha Company (HARDOCK), 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment stationed at Forward Operating Base MACKENZIE, Iraq, on 17 October 2005. On the evening of 17 October 2005, Sergeant First Class Cashe’s heroic actions saved the lives of six of his fellow soldiers. At approximately 1920 hours, 1st Platoon of Alpha Company, 1-15 Infantry departed FOB MACKENZIE to conduct a route clearance in the city of Daliaya, Iraq. Along Route JAIME, the lead Bradley Fighting Vehicle, of which Sergeant First Class Cashe was gunner having just moved from a NMC vehicle, struck a victim detonated pressure-switch IED at grid MC 25357243. The blast ignited the fuel cell on the vehicle causing fuel to spew everywhere. The vehicle came to a stop and immediately erupted in flames. Sergeant First Class Cashe was initially slightly injured and drenched with fuel. Despite his condition, he bravely managed to get out of the gunner’s hatch, crawl down the BFV and assist the driver out of the driver’s hatch. The driver had been burned and Sergeant First Class Cashe extinguished his flames. The following minutes were crucial. Six soldiers and a translator were in the back of the Bradley. Flames had engulfed the entire vehicle from the bottom and were coming out of every portal. The squad leader inside the vehicle managed to open the troop hatch door to help the soldiers escape. Without regard for his personal safety, Sergeant First Class Cashe rushed to the back of the vehicle, reaching into the hot flames and started pulling out his soldiers. The flames gripped his fuel soaked uniform. Flames quickly spread all over his body. Despite the terrible pain, Sergeant First Class Cashe placed the injured soldier on the ground and returned to the burning vehicle to retrieve another burning soldier; all the while, he was still on fire. A crew from a trail Bradley arrived within moments and assisted with CASEVAC. During all this and with severe burns, Sergeant First Class Cashe bravely continued to take control of the chaos. Within minutes, the company First Sergeant was on the scene and began to evacuate the seriously injured soldiers. One of which was Sergeant First Class Cashe. In the end, the national translator was killed in action, and 10 soldiers were injured. Seven of the ten were very seriously injured. Sergeant First Class Cashe stayed a hero through it all. His injuries were the worst as he suffered form 2d and 3d degree burns over 72% of his body. Sergeant First Class Cashe’s heroic actions saved the lives of six of his beloved soldiers. He is truly deserving of this award. His actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military heroism and reflect distinct credit upon himself, Task Force LIBERTY and the United States Army.

 


Born: July 13, 1970, Thompson, Ga…. Home of Record: Oviedo, Fla…. Departed Nov. 8, 2005 from wounds sustained in above actions… Buried: Restlawn Cemetery, Sanford, Fla.