President Joe Biden awarded the nation’s highest military award, the Medal of Honor, to three Army soldiers who risked their lives saving others during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Among the three awardees, Sgt. First Class Alwyn C. Cashe became the first Black service member to be honored since the 9/11 attacks. Cashe died 16 years ago, at the age of 35. He is survived by his widow, Tamara Cashe, who proudly accepted her late husband’s Medal of Honor on his behalf.
An emotional medal ceremony was held at the White House on Thursday, Dec. 16.
“Today, we honor three outstanding soldiers, whose actions embody the highest ideals of selfless service,” Biden said at the ceremony. “We also remember the high price our military members and their families are willing to pay on behalf of our nation.”
“We remember the strength and the sacrifices of these military families, caregivers and survivors,” he added. “And we remember and renew our sacred obligation to those who served this nation in uniform.”
According to the White House, Cashe suffered severe burns to his body after extracting and aiding his fellow soldiers from a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle during Operation Iraqi Freedom in the Salah Ad Din Province on Oct. 17, 2005. Despite his endured pain, his heroic actions will never be forgotten, Biden said.
An Oviedo, Florida, native, Cashe enlisted in the U.S. Army in July 1989 after graduating from Oviedo High School. He was deployed in the 1991 Gulf War and served in Korea and Germany. In 2005, he was deployed to Iraq while serving as a platoon sergeant in the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. He was initially the recipient of the Silver Star, the Army’s third-highest honor for valor in combat. However, according to ABC News, his battalion commander, Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, and other officers advocated for years that Cashe deserved to be awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism.
In an interview, Cashe’s sister, Kasinal Cashe-White, told ABC News that receiving the Medal of Honor “means everything” to the family.
“We lost our brother. He can’t be replaced. But this award means that his name, his legacy will go down in history,” she said.