The possibility of a Medal of Honor for the late Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe of Oviedo came a step closer Tuesday when the U.S. House of Representatives approved a bill making it possible.
By unanimous consent late Tuesday, the House passed House Resolution 8276, introduced by Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy of Winter Park and cosponsored by Republican Rep. Michael Waltz of St. Augustine Beach and Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas.
HR 8276 would waive a five-year time statute of limitations that has expired for normal consideration for Medal of Honor awards by directly authorizing the President to award the medal “for acts of valor during Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
That action would actually be an upgrade from the Silver Star that Cashe was posthumously awarded for saving several of his soldiers’ lives in Iraq in 2005.
President Donald Trump has not addressed the nomination. However, Defense Secretary Mark Esper signed on last month. In a letter, Esper told Murphy, Waltz, and Crenshaw that, after reviewing the file, “I agree that SFC Cashe’s actions merit award of the Medal of Honor.” Esper wrote that he would recommend it to Trump.
In 2005, while deployed to Iraq, Cashe saved multiple soldiers under his command after their vehicle hit an improvised explosive device and caught fire. Cashe returned to the burning vehicle several times to rescue soldiers from the flames, all while on fire himself and while exposed to incoming enemy gunfire.
He later died from his wounds.
Ever since, Cashe’s family, in recent years led by his sister Kasinal Cashe White, has been campaigning to have him awarded the Medal of Honor. They eventually drew in Murphy in late 2017, and Waltz and Crenshaw about a year later.
White joined Murphy Tuesday for the House passage of the bill.
“He did what he did because he was a solder. And he loved his men. And I believe they loved him in return,” White said.
Senate approval for HR 8276 might be a higher hurdle than the President’s approval for the medal, at least for this Congress, which ends in January. The House and Senate are in a hostile mood toward each other this election season. There are not yet any Senate sponsors.
Murphy said Tuesday that she, Waltz, and Crenshaw have been lobbying colleagues in the other chamber. They are hopeful the Senate could take up and quickly approve companion legislation.
Murphy’s Florida 7th Congressional District includes Oviedo, and Cashe’s birthplace of Sanford. Waltz’s Florida’s 6th Congressional District is just across the St. John’s River. Waltz and Crenshaw both are Army combat veterans.
“I think it’s a matter of the Senate being the Senate. But what is undeniable is that Alwyn Cashe is an American hero who did incredibly brave things and deserves the Medal of Honor. I think there’s agreement to that. I think that’s something that isn’t being disputed,” Murphy said. “So now we just have to work through the Senate process.”
Murphy said she has a Plan B, just in case.
The key provisions of HR 8276 already have been attached as an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2021, which is a cinch to be approved later this year, probably in November or December, she said.
White said the family was never going to give up its campaign. Still, they were struggling until Murphy, and then Waltz and Crenshaw, joined.
“I feel a million times better since Congresswoman Murphy came onboard. … She has moved mountains I was not able to move,” White said. “I also thank Dan Crenshaw and Mr. Waltz for their interest and to join her, to say that this medal needed to be upgraded.
“Honestly, by the time they came aboard I thought I had exhausted all my options. And so they were a godsend,” White said.
In 2018 Murphy pushed through a bill, and Trump signed it, to rename the Oviedo post office at 567 E. Franklin St. as “The Sergeant First Class Alwyn Crendall Cashe Post Office Building.”