Ken Harbaugh tells the stories of service members who have distinguished themselves through an act of valor. These stories feature recipients from the Civil War to present day, including a few who were originally overlooked for the medal.
Born into a large family in Oviedo, FL, Alwyn Cashe’s military career began in the early 2000’s. He was deployed to Iraq in 2005 as a member of the 3rd Infantry Division. When one of the unit’s vehicles was hit by an IED, Cashe went to extraordinary lengths to save members of his party, suffering grievous injuries in the process.
Welcome to the Medal of Honor podcast, brought to you in partnership with the National Medal of Honor Museum. I’m Ken Harbaugh. In each episode, we’ll learn about a different service member who has distinguished him or herself through an act of valor.
Sergeant 1st Class Alwyn Cashe was born in Oviedo, Florida in 1970, the youngest of 10 children. Cashe’s father passed away when he was five years old, and his family crammed into a 3 bedroom apartment.
At 18, Cashe enlisted in the US Army as a supply specialist, and later became an infantryman. He deployed overseas to several conflicts: the Gulf War, Yugoslavia, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Stateside, Cashe served as a drill sergeant.
In 2005, Cashe deployed to Iraq with the 3rd Infantry Division in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On October 17th, Cashe was the gunner on a bradley Fighting Vehicle that hit a pressure-switch IED. The blast burst the fuel cell. Cashe’s uniform was soaking in fuel, but he wasn’t seriously wounded. Cashe emerged from the hatch, first saving the driver from the wreck, but his soldiers in the back of the Bradley were trapped in flames. When they finally opened the troop hatch from the inside, Cashe ran in to save the lives of the soldiers and their interpreter. The flames lit his body on fire, but Cashe kept running inside to pull out more soldiers. After clearing the Bradley, Cashe realized two soldiers were missing and ran into a building to get them.
By the time he was done, burns covered 72% of Cashe’s body. He returned to the US for treatment, but succumbed to his wounds on November 8th. Every single one of the soldiers he rescued survived. He left behind a wife and three children.
Cashe was originally awarded a Silver Star, as his command did not know just how severe his injuries were from saving his fellow soldiers. They soon realized he deserved our nation’s highest honor for valor. Through the advocacy of Army officers, lawmakers, and even NFL players who served, Cashe’s family received his Medal of Honor on December 16th, 2021.
The Medal of Honor podcast is a production of Evergreen Podcasts.
Declan Rohrs is our producer, León Pescador is our associate producer, Nathan Corson is our engineer, and I’m Ken Harbaugh.
We are proud to support the National Medal of Honor Museum. To learn more, and to support their mission, go to mohmuseum.org. Thanks for listening.