Fifteen years after his act of heroism in Iraq, time has officially run out to posthumously award Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe the Medal of Honor. But the Defense Department hopes to make that happen anyway, assuming Congress grants a waiver of the five-year time limit, the Washington Post reports. The decision then will be up to President Trump. Defense Secretary Mark Esper made the announcement in a letter to several members of Congress who had asked him last fall to elevate Cashe's Silver Star to a Medal of Honor. The Democratic lawmaker who represents Cashe's hometown of Oviedo, Florida, said she was "overjoyed" by Esper's decision. Rep. Stephanie Murphy called Cashe "a hero in the purest and most profound sense." He would be the first Black person given the nation's highest honor for valor in combat in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Cashe, 35, received fatal burns in Samarra, Iraq, in October 2005. An improvised explosive device blew up his Bradley Fighting Vehicle, dousing him in fuel. Still, Cashe pulled soldiers from the burning vehicle—"without regard for his personal safety," the Silver Star citation says. Burns covered 72% of Cashe's body, and he died weeks later. "Cashe has become something of a legend in military circles," the lawmakers wrote to Esper, per the Army Times. The soldier's name also is on a Pentagon list of potential replacements for Confederate names on 10 Army installations. That effort is complicated by Trump's opposition to renaming the bases, per the Post. Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw said he'll keep advocating for recognition of Cashe. "Heroes are all around us, but certain heroes stand out," Crenshaw said. "One of those heroes is Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe." (Read more Medal of Honor stories.)