(CNN/KDKA) — A fallen US Army sergeant is poised to become the first Black service member to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
President Donald Trump on Friday signed legislation that waives the five-year limit for awarding the military’s highest medal for valor in combat to Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe.READ MORE: Walmart Issues Recall For Aromatherapy Spray Containing Dangerous Bacteria That Can Cause Death
Cashe, 35, was on patrol on Oct. 17, 2005, in Samarra, Iraq, when a roadside bomb detonated near the Bradley fighting vehicle he was in. The blast ruptured the vehicle’s fuel cell, setting the vehicle on fire and covering Cashe in gasoline. Only slightly injured, he crawled out of the gunner’s hatch.
Six soldiers were still inside the vehicle, which was engulfed in flames. Even though his uniform was soaked in fuel, Cashe helped rescue the soldiers from the vehicle and remove the body of an Iraqi translator killed by the explosion.
In doing so, Cashe suffered second and third-degree burns over 70% of his body. The Florida native died from his injuries on November 8, 2005, at a military hospital in San Antonio, Texas
Cashe was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for his heroism, but his family and some former commanders have campaigned for years for him to be recognized with the Medal of Honor.
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After the Steelers’ game against the Giants in September, offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva said his decision to replace Antwon Rose II’s name on the back of his helmet with Cashe’s “had to do exclusively” with the fallen soldier.
“I felt that my decision to honor Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe was something that was very personal to me, due to the fact that in the veteran community there’s a strong push to get him a Medal of Honor,” Villanueva said in September.
Villanueva said the “decision had to do exclusively with Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe and his pursuit for the Medal of Honor, which is something that he deserves and hopefully he’ll get soon.”
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The bipartisan measure to waive the five-year limit was sponsored by Florida Democratic Rep. Stephanie Murphy, who represents Cashe’s home district, and Republican Reps. Michael Waltz of Florida and Dan Crenshaw of Texas.
The president has the sole authority to award the Medal of Honor, but the move has had support from the Pentagon.MORE NEWS: 'Sounded Like A Freight Train': Peters Twp. Residents Say Storm Lasted Just Minutes, But Cleanup Will Go On For Days
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