On December 16, 2021, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr., will award the Medal of Honor to Sergeant First Class Alwyn C. Cashe, United States Army, Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz, United States Army, and Master Sergeant Earl D. Plumlee, United States Army, for conspicuous gallantry.
Sergeant First Class Alwyn C. Cashe will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty, while serving as a Platoon Sergeant with Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3d Brigade, 3d Infantry Division in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq on 17 October 2005, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
While on a night-time mounted patrol near an enemy laden village, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle which Sergeant First Class Cashe was commanding, was attacked by enemy small arms fire and an improvised explosive device which disabled the vehicle and caused it to become engulfed in flames. After extracting himself he set about extracting the driver who was trapped in the vehicle. After opening the driver’s hatch, Sergeant First Class Cashe and a fellow Soldier extracted the driver, extinguished the flames on him, and moved him to a position of relative safety. During the course of extinguishing the flames on the driver and extracting him from the vehicle, Sergeant First Class Cashe’s fuel soaked uniform ignited causing severe burns to his body. He then moved to the rear of the vehicle to continue in aiding his peers who were trapped in the troop compartment. At this time, the enemy noted his movements and began to direct their fire on his position. When another element of the company engaged the enemy, Sergeant First Class Cashe seized the opportunity and moved into the open troop door and aided four of his peers in escaping the burning vehicle. Having extracted the four Soldiers, he noticed two other Soldiers had not been accounted for and he again entered the burning vehicle to retrieve them. Despite the severe second and third degree burns covering the majority of his body, Sergeant First Class Cashe persevered through the pain to encourage his fellow Soldiers and ensure they received needed medical care. When medical evacuation helicopters began to arrive, he selflessly refused evacuation until all of the other wounded Soldiers were first evacuated. Sergeant First Class Cashe’s heroic actions, at the cost of his life, saved the lives of his teammates.
Born on July 13, 1970, Sergeant First Class Alwyn C. Cashe grew up in Oviedo, Florida, and enlisted in the U.S. Army on July 18, 1989 after graduating from Oviedo High School. He initially served two years in Korea, followed by nearly three years at Fort Lewis, Washington. He deployed in support of the Gulf War in 1991. In 1993, he became an infantryman and served another year-long tour in Korea. Sergeant First Class Cashe then served as a squad leader for two years at Fort Hood, Texas, and for two years in Germany. He graduated from Drill Sergeant School in 1998, and served two and a half years as a Drill Sergeant at Fort Benning, Georgia. He returned to Europe in February, 2001, as an operations noncommissioned officer for the 19th Battlefield Coordination Detachment, then served in Germany for two years as a squad leader in the 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment. In April, 2004, Sergeant First Class Cashe served as a platoon sergeant in the 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Georgia. He deployed in 2005 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz will receive the Medal of Honor posthumously for his acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as the leader of a special operations unit comprised of partnered forces and members of the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, on July 12, 2018, in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan.
While deployed to Afghanistan, Sergeant First Class Celiz led an operation to clear an area of enemy forces and thereby disrupt future attacks against Afghan and allied forces. When a large enemy force attacked, Sergeant First Class Celiz voluntarily exposed himself to intense enemy machine gun and small arms fire to retrieve and employ a heavy weapon system, thereby allowing U.S. and partnered forces to regain the initiative, maneuver to a secure location and begin treatment of a critically wounded partnered force member. As the medical evacuation helicopter arrived, it was immediately engaged by accurate and sustained enemy fire. Knowing how critical it was to quickly load the casualty, Sergeant First Class Celiz willingly exposed himself to heavy and effective enemy fire to direct and lead the evacuation. Sergeant First Class Celiz made a conscious effort to ensure his body acted as a physical shield to his team carrying the casualty and the crew of the aircraft. As the casualty was loaded and Sergeant First Class Celiz’ team returned to cover, he alone remained at the aircraft, returning a high volume of fire and constantly repositioning himself to act as a physical shield to the aircraft and its crew. Sergeant First Class Celiz then placed himself directly between the cockpit and the enemy, ensuring the aircraft was able to depart. As the helicopter lifted off, Sergeant First Class Celiz was hit by enemy fire. Fully aware of his own injury, but understanding the peril to the aircraft from the intense enemy machine gun fire, Sergeant First Class Celiz motioned to the aircraft to depart rather than remain to load him. His selfless actions saved the life of the evacuated partnered force member and almost certainly prevented further casualties among other members of his team and the aircrew. Sergeant First Class Celiz died of wounds he received in combat on July 12, 2018 in Paktia Province, Afghanistan.
Sergeant First Class Christopher A. Celiz was born on January 12, 1986 in South Carolina. He graduated high school on May 23, 2004 and enlisted in the U.S. Army on September 9, 2006, where he was first assigned to Company E, 2nd Battalion, 7th Calvary Regiment, 1st Calvary Division, Fort Hood, Texas. In 2013, Sergeant First Class Celiz was assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment and deployed to Afghanistan on several occasions with his unit.
Master Sergeant Earl D. Plumlee will receive the Medal of Honor for his acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty on August 28th, 2013, while serving as a Weapons Sergeant, C Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Special Forces Group (Airborne), in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
While deployed to Afghanistan, then-Staff Sergeant Plumlee instantly responded to a complex enemy attack that began with a massive explosion that tore a sixty-foot breach in the base’s perimeter wall. Ten insurgents wearing Afghan National Army uniforms and suicide vests poured through the breach. Staff Sergeant Plumlee and five Special Operations members, intent upon defending the base, mounted two vehicles and raced toward the site of the detonation. The vehicles, now no longer under cover, came under effective enemy fire from the front and right. Using his body to shield the driver from enemy fire, he instinctively reacted, exiting the vehicle while simultaneously drawing his pistol and engaging an insurgent to the vehicle’s right. Without cover and with complete disregard for his own safety, he advanced on the superior enemy force engaging multiple insurgents with only his pistol. Upon reaching cover, he killed two insurgents, one with a well-placed grenade and the other by detonating the insurgent’s suicide vest using precision sniper fire. Again disregarding his own safety, he left cover and advanced alone against the superior enemy force engaging several combatants at close range, including an insurgent whose suicide vest exploded a mere seven meters from his position. Undeterred and resolute, he joined a small group of American and Polish Soldiers, who moved from cover to counter-attack the infiltrators. As the force advanced, he engaged an insurgent to his front left. The wounded insurgent threw a grenade before detonating his suicide vest. Staff Sergeant Plumlee then swung around and engaged another insurgent who charged the group from the rear. The insurgent detonated his suicide vest, mortally wounding a U.S. Soldier. Staff Sergeant Plumlee, with complete disregard for his own safety, ran to the wounded Soldier, carried him to safety, and rendered first aid. He then organized three Polish Soldiers for defense, methodically cleared the area, remained in a security posture, and continued to scan for any remaining threats.
Master Sergeant Plumlee enlisted in the Oklahoma Army National Guard in October 1998. Following his high school graduation in May 2000, he was released from the Oklahoma Army National Guard to join the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in the Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve from May 2000 to December 2008. Following his separation from the Marine Corps Reserve, Master Sergeant Plumlee enlisted in the U.S. Army on February 5th 2009. He has numerous overseas deployments to include Iraq and Afghanistan and is currently serving as a Senior Weapons Sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis, Washington.
THE MEDAL OF HONOR:
The Medal of Honor is awarded to members of the Armed Forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of their own lives above and beyond the call of duty while:
- engaged in an action against an enemy of the United States;
- engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or
- serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party.
The meritorious conduct must involve great personal bravery or self-sacrifice so conspicuous as to clearly distinguish the individual above his or her comrades and must have involved risk of life. There must be incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.