President Joe Biden will soon present Medals of Honor to three soldiers for actions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the coming weeks, according to a source and a Washington Post report.
The three recipients will be:
- Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who died of burns sustained in October 2005 after rescuing, one-by-one, six soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter from a burning Bradley Fighting Vehicle that struck an IED near Samarra, Iraq.
- Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee, a Green Beret who played a pivotal role in fighting off a complex suicide attack at FOB Ghazni, Afghanistan, in August 2013.
- Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, an Army Ranger who died of wounds received in Paktia Province, Afghanistan, during a firefight with Taliban militants in July 2018.
The Washington Post first reported the pending ceremony. A friend of the Cashe family confirmed the award when reached by Army Times. White House officials declined to comment on the awards, but a formal announcement was expected as early as Wednesday evening.
All three soldiers previously received valor awards for their actions — Cashe and Plumlee were awarded the Silver Star, and Celiz received a Bronze Star with V device.
Cashe’s award is long overdue, according to many observers. He will be the first Black service member to receive the Medal of Honor for events during the Global War on Terrorism.
Cashe’s efforts to rescue his soldiers resulted in second and third degree burns over nearly 75 percent of his body, ultimately leading to his death. Witnesses said that even as the heat burned his uniform and body armor off of him, Cashe ignored the pain to continue pulling his men out of the fire.
Originally, his command rapidly moved to award him the Silver Star.
But after learning the full extent of Cashe’s actions, his battalion commander, now-Lt. Gen. Gary Brito, soon launched a campaign to upgrade the award. It took more than a decade for Cashe’s supporters to win over Army officials and lawmakers in order to clear administrative barriers for the award.
In November 2020, Congress removed the final hurdle when it passed legislation authorizing Cashe to receive the nation’s highest award for valor, but the Trump administration did not award the medal.
Originally published on Military Times, our sister publication.