Press Releases

Secretary of Defense Expresses Support for Awarding Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe the Medal of Honor

In response to letter from Reps. Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz, Secretary Esper says he agrees that SFC’s Cashe’s Silver Star should be upgraded to the Medal of Honor

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Washington, August 28, 2020 | comments

WASHINGTON—U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Dan Crenshaw, R-Tex., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., announced today that U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper informed them in writing of his conclusion that U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe deserves to have his Silver Star upgraded to the Medal of Honor—the highest award for combat valor that the United States bestows—for actions that SFC Cashe took in Iraq in October 2005. Those actions led to SFC Cashe’s passing.

Secretary Esper’s expression of support came in response to a letter that the three Members of Congress sent to the Secretary in October 2019, urging him to carefully review SFC Cashe’s case. Secretary Esper indicated to the Members of Congress that he is prepared to recommend to the President that SFC Cashe be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor if Congress makes a change to federal law, which generally requires that the Medal of Honor be awarded within five years of the actions that are the basis for the award. Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz intend to work together to pursue that modification immediately. The final decision about whether to award SFC Cashe the Medal of Honor rests solely with the President.

SFC Cashe was raised in Oviedo, Fla., which is located in Murphy’s congressional district.

“After giving the nomination careful consideration, I agree that SFC Cashe’s actions merit award of the Medal of Honor,” wrote Secretary Esper in his letter to the Members of Congress. A copy of that letter can be found here.

“Before we can take further action with this nomination, Congress must waive this [five-year] time limit. Once legislation is enacted authorizing the President of the United States to award, if he so chooses, the Medal of Honor to SFC Cashe, I will provide my endorsement to the President,” added Secretary Esper.

In 2005, while deployed to Iraq, SFC Cashe saved the lives of multiple soldiers after their fighting vehicle hit an improvised explosive device and caught fire. SFC Cashe returned to the burning vehicle again and again to pull his soldiers out of the flames, all while he himself was on fire and exposed to incoming enemy gunfire. He later passed away from his wounds. To see Rep. Murphy speak on the House floor about SFC Cashe, click here and here.

“Alwyn was a hero in the purest and most profound sense. He gave his own life to save the lives of his fellow soldiers,” said Murphy.  “I am overjoyed that the Secretary of Defense has determined that SFC Cashe’s actions merit the Medal of Honor, a conclusion I strongly share. I will work with my colleagues to swiftly grant the President the authority he needs to provide this valiant soldier with the recognition he earned.”

“Heroes are all around us, but certain heroes stand out. One of those heroes is Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe. Alwyn Cashe’s actions saved his men’s lives. He risked his own life as he pulled them out of a flaming Bradley Fighting Vehicle and went back - again and again. From Secretary Esper’s statement, we are poised to fully recognize the full extent of his heroism by finally awarding him the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for bravery on the battlefield,” said Crenshaw. “I’m grateful for the hard work of Rep. Murphy and Rep. Waltz in honoring Alwyn Cashe, and I look forward to doing all I can to honor Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe, because he is a hero and his story is one all Americans should know so we can look upon his example and aspire to the example he displayed.”

“Alwyn Cashe’s extraordinary courage on behalf of his fellow soldiers, in the face of danger and death, embodies everything the Medal of Honor represents,” said Waltz. “Cashe is a Florida and American hero. He without a doubt deserves our nation’s highest honor — and I’m very glad Secretary Esper and our Department of Defense agree and recognize his heroic actions. Now Congress needs to act to waive the five year statute of limitations and allow the Department of Defense’s recommendation to move forward and proceed to the President to give final approval.”

In 2018, the President signed into law legislation authored by Murphy to dedicate a U.S. post office in Oviedo, Fla., in SFC Cashe’s honor. In 2019, Murphy held a dedication ceremony in Oviedo that was attended by SFC Cashe’s family and friends, and by veterans from across Central Florida.

Meanwhile, Reps. Crenshaw and Waltz offered a successful floor amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act that would waive the statute of limitations for SFC Cashe’s Silver Star to be upgraded to the Medal of Honor and expressed Congressional support for the upgrade.

Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz all have national security backgrounds. Murphy served as a national security specialist at the Department of Defense, Crenshaw served as an officer in the U.S. Navy SEALs, and Waltz served as an officer in the U.S. Army Special Forces. 




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