WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper has endorsed awarding the Medal of Honor, the military’s highest award for valor in combat, to a soldier who sustained fatal burns while acting to save fellow soldiers in Iraq in 2005.
Esper expressed his support in a letter to members of Congress who are pushing for Army Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn C. Cashe of Florida to receive the award, which would be an upgrade from the Silver Star he previously received for his actions.
Esper wrote that a final decision is up to President Donald Trump.
The Washington Post reported that Cache would be the first Black service member to receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Esper wrote that before final action can be taken, Congress must waive a requirement that the Medal of Honor be awarded within five years of the event for which the service member is being honored. A waiver is seen as likely.
Esper was responding to an inquiry by three House members — Stephanie Murphy, a Florida Democrat; Michael Waltz, a Florida Republican, and Dan Crenshaw, a Texas Republican. In a statement the three said they would push for a congressional waiver for Cache’s case. They said Cache was raised in Oviedo, Fla., which is in Murphy’s district.