Sgt First Class Alwyn Cashe, A Hero You Should Know

Sgt First Class Alwyn Cashe, A Hero You Should Know

Sgt First Class Alwyn Cashe, A Hero You Should Know

Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe’s last actions on the battlefields of Iraq in October 2005 were those of extreme courage and bravery. For his actions, he was posthumously awarded the Silver Star. Yet, for the last fifteen years, many have advocated that his award be upgraded to the Medal of Honor. The Secretary of Defense, Mark Esper concurs.

“After giving the nomination careful consideration, I agree that SFC Cashe’s actions merit award of the Medal of Honor,” Esper wrote in the Aug. 24 letter.”

Who is Alwyn Cashe, and why should we know him?

He was the last of ten children, born in Georgia. His parents never attended college and their father died when Alwyn was just five years old. That didn’t stop the Cashe family. 

“My dad, he was a poor boy from the projects who made good. We hailed from the projects of Seminole County,” she said. “My dad never finished high school, but all his daughters have at least one college degree, and all sons represented in the military.””

The Army was the perfect fit for Alwyn. He thrived there and garnered the respect of everyone he served with. By all accounts, he was a very tough but fair leader. 

The account of Alwyn Cashe’s actions on October 17, 2005 is one that just grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go. 

It was a convoy of Bradleys on routine patrol when one of those hideous IED’s blew up under the Bradley Alwyn Cashe, an interpreter and nine other soldiers were in. The bomb and subsequent explosion was so huge that all the soldiers within the Bradley were knocked unconscious and the fuel tank was ruptured. 

“Cashe was able to crawl out the gunner’s hatch, grabbing the injured driver through the driver’s hatch along the way and patting out the driver’s burning uniform. Injured, but not critically, Cashe was covered in diesel fuel. Getting the driver to safety, Cashe didn’t want to watch any more of his men die. He’d seen far too many lives lost already. Six American soldiers and a translator were still trapped inside.

Cashe rushed to the hatch on the Bradley. Flames licked out at him as he fought with the door. His uniform catching ablaze, he’d already done the unthinkable in even attempting to rescue the doomed men inside the machine, but he pressed on as his uniform and gear burned around him.

By the time Cashe got the hatch open, he only had on his body armor and helmet, his uniform burnt to asses or charred into his skin. Grabbing the first wounded soldier within, Cashe was assisted in carrying him to nearby medics.

Then he went back.

Enemy rounds were pinging off the hull of the disable vehicle and the intense heat from the fire inside was cooking off the ammunition within. Once inside for the second time, Cashe tried to douse the flames on his uniforms before realizing that his skin was peeling off with the remains of his clothing. Alwyn carried another man out of the Bradley, and with help, dragged him to the waiting medics.

Then he went back.

For a third time, Sergeant First Class Cashe rushed back into the burning hulk of his Bradley Fighting Vehicle. He would be the last casualty removed from the wreck. He’d helped to save seven men that day. The only one he didn’t rescue was the translator who had been killed instantly from the initial blast.”

THREE TIMES Alwyn Cashe, on fire himself and under fire from the enemy, went back into that Bradley trying to rescue all of his men. THREE TIMES. Read the entire account of his heroism here. 

Even while horrifically injured, he had to be nearly forcibly restrained from getting off the gurney by medical staff. Why? Because his focus was solely on finding out if his men were ok. Even while enduring extreme amounts of pain while at Brook Army Medical Center, Alwyn Cashe kept tabs on his men, and mourned those who succumbed to their injuries. Alwyn Cashe’s emotional pain seemed greater than his physical pain at that time.

Of the seven men he pulled from that burning Bradley, five succumbed to their injuries. Alwyn Cashe, last off the battlefield that day, succumbed to his own injuries on November 5, 2005.

One of the men he saved remembers that day. 

“Nine years after the Iraq bomb attack, retired Sgt. Gary Mills has no doubt that Cashe deserves the Medal of Honor. Mills was inside the stricken Bradley fighting vehicle that day. He was on fire, his hands so badly burned that he couldn’t open the rear troop door to free himself and other soldiers trapped inside the flaming vehicle.

Someone opened the door from outside, Mills recalls. A powerful hand grabbed him and yanked him to safety. He later learned that the man who had rescued him was Cashe, who seconds later crawled into the vehicle to haul out the platoon’s critically burned medic while on fire himself.

“Sgt. Cashe saved my life,” Mills said. “With all the ammo inside that vehicle, and all those flames, we’d have all been dead in another minute or two.””

I just cannot imagine. Can you? THREE TIMES Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe went into that burning Bradley for his men. 

https://twitter.com/CAFinUS/status/1299400204983111680

Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy, a veteran herself, is correct. The words courage and bravery seem so inadequate in describing Alwyn Cashe’s actions that day.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper’s letter is a strong signal that this hero, this man we should know, will soon receive our nation’s highest award, the Medal of Honor. 

Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe, we are in awe and humbled by your courage and bravery. We thank you sir, from the bottom of our hearts, for your service and sacrifice. 

Feature Photo Credit: U.S. Army.mil, modified

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4 Comments
  • Scott says:

    BZ SFC Cashe, RIP, and here’s hoping you get the upgrade to your award that you so deserve!

  • GWB says:

    The words courage and bravery seem so inadequate in describing Alwyn Cashe’s actions that day.
    No. Not inadequate. But we should certainly redefine them back to this sort of man and not demean them the way our society often does. This IS courage.

    RIP, SFC Cashe. Your watch has ended, and you stood it faithfully. At rest, now, soldier.

  • Mary says:

    Brave Hero, I salute you,

  • mac says:

    SFC Cashe, say hello to Alvin York, John Basilone, Audie Murphy and Chesty Puller for us. Neither they, nor you, will be forgotten by Americans who love this country. You left your family a legacy of inestimable value. May God bless them to live up to it.

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