WASHINGTON—U.S. Reps. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., Dan Crenshaw, R-Tex., and Michael Waltz, R-Fla., today introduced legislation to authorize the President of the United States to posthumously award U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe the Medal of Honor for actions taken in Iraq on October 17, 2005. The bill would make a technical 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, a requirement that Congress regularly waives.
The bill was filed in the wake of an August 24, 2020 letter that U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper sent in response to an October 2019 letter he received from Reps. Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz. In that letter, the Members asked the Secretary to carefully review SFC Cashe’s case and expressed their personal view that SFC Cashe’s actions—for which he received the Silver Star—warranted an upgrade to the Medal of Honor.
In his response letter to the three Members of Congress, Secretary Esper stated: “After giving the nomination careful consideration, I agree that SFC Cashe’s actions merit award of the Medal of Honor.” The Secretary added: “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.”
“For well over a decade, there has been a painstaking effort by SFC Cashe’s family, friends, and former comrades to have his Silver Star upgraded to the Medal of Honor, which is clearly justified by the facts of this case,” said Murphy. “We were thrilled when Secretary Esper determined that SFC Cashe’s actions merit the Medal of Honor. With the introduction of this bipartisan bill today, my colleagues and I are working together to remove the one remaining technical obstacle that stands in the way of this incredible soldier receiving the recognition he earned.”
“Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe 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,” said Crenshaw. “He is deserving of the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for bravery on the battlefield, and I’m proud to work with my colleagues to make sure that happens.”
“Sergeant Cashe, under extraordinary circumstances, sacrificed his life to save his fellow soldiers, true to the end to the soldier’s creed,” said Waltz. “Cashe’s actions are deserving of the Medal of Honor. He is the very definition of an American hero – and I’m proud to work with my colleagues on this legislation to honor him.”
In addition to introducing this standalone bill, Reps. Murphy, Crenshaw, and Waltz are working closely with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include a waiver for SFC Cashe within the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act, which is currently pending in Congress. The three Members of Congress are pursuing two simultaneous lines of effort in order to maximize the chance of successfully enacting a waiver that would enable the President to award SFC Cashe the Medal of Honor as swiftly as possible.
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 repeatedly returned to the burning vehicle to pull his soldiers out of the flames, all while he himself was on fire and exposed to 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.
SFC Cashe was born in Sanford, Fla. and raised in Oviedo, Fla., both of which are located in Murphy’s congressional district. He was laid to rest in Sanford, Fla.
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. The waiver provision was removed when the House and Senate reconciled their two bills.
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.
The full text of the bill can be found here.