House approves Medal of Honor for Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who saved seven in Iraq

Sept. 23 (UPI) — A House bill passed on Tuesday brings Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, who died in 2005 after sustaining injuries in Iraq, a step closer to the Medal of Honor.

The bill, which passed the House on Tuesday by unanimous consent, was filed after Defense Secretary Mark Esper wrote on Aug. 24 that Cashe should receive an upgrade from the Silver Star he received, for his actions in Iraq in 2005, to the Medal of Honor.

Cashe pulled six fellow soldiers and their Afghan interpreter from a burning armored vehicle after a roadside bomb explosion, and later died in a Texas hospital, with third-degree burns on 72 percent of his body.

Cashe, from Oviedo, Fla., would be the first Black recipient of the Medal of Honor for service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We are one step closer to ensuring that Alwyn Cashe receives the Medal of Honor he earned,” Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., one of four sponsors on the bill, said in a statement on Tuesday.

In addition to Murphy, the bill was sponsored by Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., and Rep. Dan Crenshaw, R-Texas.

“His bravery in the face of danger has inspired so many already, and this is a significant step forward to properly recognize him for his heroism,” said Waltz.

The bill waives the federally mandated time of five years between the award, the country’s highest military honor for valor, and the actions which prompted it. The rule is frequently waived but it takes a concerted effort by members of Congress to guide an exemption.

The sponsoring members have begun coordinating their efforts with Senate members, who must also approve the waiver before the president can officially award the honor.

“He is deserving of the Medal of Honor, our nation’s highest military award for bravery on the battlefield, and we urge that the Senate quickly follow suit and pass our bill to make sure that happens,” Crenshaw said.

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White House to Award First Medal of Honor for Heroism in Fight Against ISIS

An Army sergeant major who bravely rescued 75 prisoners from the clutches of ISIS in Iraq will receive the military’s highest valor award on the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 territory attacks, the White House announced Thursday.

Sgt. Maj. Thomas “Patrick” Payne will receive the Medal of Honor Sept. 11 at the White House for his actions during a “daring nighttime hostage rescue” Oct. 22, 2015, while he was deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, the coalition fight against ISIS.

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Payne led a combined assault team in liberating hostages during two separate risky forays.

“With speed, audacity, and courage, he first led his team as they quickly cleared the assigned building, liberating 38 hostages,” the White House said in a statement. “Then, upon hearing a request for additional assault team members to assist with clearing the other building, Sergeant Payne, on his own initiative, left his secured position. He exposed himself to enemy fire as he bounded across the compound to the other building from which enemy forces were engaging his comrades.”

After engaging enemy fighters from the roof of that now-burning building, he returned to ground level, fighting his way toward the entrance in a race to save the hostages still inside. Others on the ground had been thwarted from entering due to the fire inside.

“Sergeant Payne knowingly risked his own life by bravely entering the building under intense enemy fire, enduring smoke, heat, and flames to identify the armored door imprisoning the hostages,” the White House statement reads. “Upon exiting, Sergeant Payne exchanged his rifle for bolt cutters and again entered the building, ignoring the enemy rounds impacting the walls around him as he cut the locks on a complex locking mechanism. His courageous actions motivated the coalition assault team members to enter the breach and assist with cutting the locks.”

Payne’s Medal of Honor award was first reported Sept. 2 by the Associated Press, which also reported that the hostages included Kurdish pershmerga fighters facing impending execution by ISIS militants.

For Payne, an 18-year soldier and the 2012 winner of the Army’s Best Ranger competition, the date of his medal presentation is significant, according to White House releases.

“Sergeant Major Payne is part of the 9/11 generation and joined the Army out of a sense of patriotism and duty to serve his country,” the announcement states.

It also notes that Payne comes from a tradition of service, with two brothers in the Army and Air Force. His wife, Alison, is a nurse.

“Growing up in Batesburg-Leesville and Lugoff, South Carolina, Sergeant Major Payne comes from what he characterizes as ‘small-town America,’ and his connection to his home state is a strong part of his personal identity,” the White House said.

Payne is also a Purple Heart recipient who sustained wounds from a grenade blast in 2010 during a deployment to Afghanistan. Though the wound was nearly “career-ending,” according to the

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