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A Medal of Honor for Al Cashe

Discussion in 'Roll of Honor & Memories - All Other Conflicts' started by KodiakBeer, Oct 18, 2015.

  1. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    If you take the time to read the link below, you'll be glad you did. Al Cashe represents a number of men who should be recognized for their sacrifices. What he did is so incredible that it's hard to fathom. He laid down his life in the most incredibly painful fashion to save his crew.

    There's a simmering feud about awards behind the scenes in the military. Iraq and Afghanistan were/are unpopular wars and the high brass are highly politicized. There's a reluctance to authorize the awards that would give their families some solace for their loss. It's shameful. Somebody like Cashe would have been given the Medal of Honor in any previous war, yet in Iraq his death only rates the Silver Star, prestigious in itself, but far below the level he deserves. He's just one of a number of people, mostly deceased, who did incredible things in the last moments of their lives.

    I don't know that there is anything we as individuals can do except be aware of this and pass it along. In Cashe's case congress has already waived the time limitation, so the decision is in the hands of the army and apparently none of the top brass want to stick their neck out under the current administration.

    http://www.historynet.com/a-medal-of-honor-for-sfc-alwyn-cashe.htm
     
  2. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    I have to respectfully disagree. His actions were heroic, but there are a lot of heroes that perform similar actions and are simlarly decorated, in order not to dilute the prestige of the MoH, the bar does need to be set exceptionally high. If this award is upgraded it should possibly be to a DSC, but I personally don't think it rates the MoH.
    Here's an example of a Vietnam Silver Star action, (one that today people are trying to have upgraded) that shows that the standards haven't changed because the current wars are unpopular.


    Lt. James Capers, Vietnam 1967

    “I could have refused those orders,” says Capers. “But I knew if I didn’t walk down those trails and locate that base camp, the regular grunts would, and a lot more people might get killed. I couldn’t live with that.”
    The team maneuvered slowly and carefully, identifying and withdrawing from three ambush sites. As the Marines were about to withdraw from a fourth, King (the teams working dog) alerted. A Claymore mine is an 8.5x3–inch convex slab of inch-deep plastic, packed full of C4 explosives and hundreds of steel balls. It usually sits a few inches above the ground and functions like a giant shotgun shell. Vietnamese fighters had daisy-chained several mines together. Crepeau recalls the moment they detonated like a scene from a film: The five men in front of him were flung to the ground in slow motion. As he watched the shock wave of violence, a steel ball punched through his leg.
    From the jungle darkness, a platoon of NVA soldiers unleashed hell from two directions. Within seconds, nearly every member of the team was badly wounded. The blast knocked Capers against a tree and punctured his body in 14 places. His right leg was broken, and as he lay severely concussed, he looked over and saw King, limp and lifeless on the bloody jungle floor. The dog had been between Capers and the blast. Lance Corporal Harry Nicolaou, a mountain of a man who carried the heavy M60 machine gun with ease, sprayed fire toward the enemy, despite having his right leg nearly blown off at the knee. “Goddamn it, you motherfuckers!” he screamed. Yerman crawled over to Capers. “We’re all down, sir!” he yelled. “But we can still fight!”
    Private First Class Henry Stanton carried the team’s only M79 grenade launcher. He was bleeding through his mouth and nose when he said to Capers, “I don’t think we’re going to make it this time.” “We’re going to make it, son,” Capers said, trying to catch his breath. “Just hold on.” Enemy grenades were exploding from every direction. Capers ordered Yerman to redistribute the team’s ammo, and his injured men to form a tight security perimeter. Doc Smith, bleeding from his neck and face, sprinted from man to man, treating and dressing their wounds. Soon he got to Capers. “Doc, I’m OK!” Capers barked. “I'm only hit a little. Take care of Nic. I think he caught most of it.” Doc gave Capers a shot of morphine and then sprinted over to Nicolaou. Yerman was working on getting the team extracted, calling for help from the grunts. Capers told Crepeau to call in mortars on their position. He knew the mortar men would intentionally offset the rounds by a few hundred feet and Crepeau could then call in adjustments until the mortars were falling on the enemy. Still, it was a dangerous gamble. Soon mortars started tearing through the canopy. “That’s it. More!” Capers was shouting. “Move ’em closer!”
    The enemy fire died down, and Capers called off the mortars. There was an awful smell—acrid smoke and burned flesh and blood and shit. But reinforcements were arriving. “We’re getting out of here—all of us,” Capers yelled to his men. “We’re not going to die on this trail.” The grunts arrived and helped the team toward the extraction site, down a rain-swept path. Capers used his rifle as a cane, blood sloshing in his jungle boots as he walked. The group took turns carrying King’s body.
    Dusk was descending as they approached the extraction point. One H-34 helicopter landed while another circled overhead, providing cover from the remaining enemy forces. The crew chief helped everyone onto the bird. King’s body lay on the ground. Capers, hazy from morphine and blood loss, drew his gun. The dog was coming with them, he told the chief, or Capers was staying behind. The crew chief jumped out and heaved King’s body onto the chopper. Seconds later, the bird lifted about six feet, then fell back to Earth. “It’s no good,” Capers said, trying to get off the aircraft so it could take off. The crew chief yanked him back in. On the second attempt, the helicopter climbed about eight feet before falling hard again. The pilots tried one more time to take off, the sound of explosions and incoming fire seeming to signal their doom. This time the helicopter rose slowly before lurching forward and climbing toward an ash-colored sky."

    Pretty heroic, awarded a Silver Star, but that's what similar actions were being awarded the star for. The military is trying to avoid the corruption of the awards process that has become an issue several times during its history. The US Army is particularly sensitive because they at times have been one of the worst offenders. In 1983 for the Grenada Operation the Army awarded 8,612 awards for personal performance, but not more than 7,000 soldiers ever set foot on the island. They awarded 681 Bronze Stars!, for an operation plagued by poor performance by a number of the Army units deployed. It is more about maintaining standards and preserving the prestige of our highest decorations and not that, "none of the top brass want to stick their neck out".
     
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  3. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    The man was on fire from head to toe and ran back into the Bradley three times to drag out all the members of the crew and the Iraqi interpreter. Then with 90% of his body burned, he refused to be evacuated until every other member was loaded first. All of that while under small arms fire from the enemy. He incinerated himself to save the men in his charge.

    If that isn't MoH material, then nothing is!
     
  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    We'll have to agree to disagree, the Silver Star is pretty much the standard award for similar actions. The famous sniper Carlos Hathcock got a Silver Star in Vietnam for a similar action. He was medically retired for the wounds/burns he received.

    From Wikipedia:

    "On September 16, 1969, Hathcock's career as a sniper came to a sudden end along Route 1, north of LZ Baldy, when an AMTRAC he was riding on, an LVT-5, struck an anti-tank mine. Hathcock pulled seven Marines from the flame-engulfed vehicle, suffering severe burns (some were third-degree) to his face, trunk, arms and legs, before jumping to safety."

    The actual Silver Star citation:

    The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Staff Sergeant Carlos N. Hathcock, II (MCSN: 1873109), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Sniper, Seventh Marines, FIRST Marine Division, in connection with military operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam on 16 September 1969. Staff Sergeant Hathcock was riding on an Assault Amphibious Vehicle which ran over and detonated an enemy anti-tank mine, disabling the vehicle which was immediately engulfed in flames. He and other Marines who were riding on top of the vehicle were sprayed with flaming gasoline caused by the explosion. Although suffering from severe burns to his face, trunk, and arms and legs, Staff Sergeant Hathcock assisted the injured Marines in exiting the burning vehicle and moving to a place of relative safety. With complete disregard for his own safety and while suffering excruciating pain from his burns, he bravely ran back through the flames and exploding ammunition to ensure that no Marines had been left behind in the burning vehicle. His heroic actions were instrumental in saving the lives of several Marines. By his courage, aggressive leadership, and total devotion to duty in the face of extreme personal danger, Staff Sergeant Hathcock reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

    Action Date: September 16, 1969

    I am not denigrating SFC Cache's heroism or sacrifice, but I fail to see how they significantly differ from this very similar, even down to the number of personnel rescued, action.
     
  5. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    We'll just have to disagree. The events are similar, but Hathcock went back in once while Cashe went back in three times, while under fire, and the burns incurred were so severe that they killed him. There's a difference.

    Other than sneaking into Baghdad, while on fire, and sticking a bayonet up Hussein's rear, three times, I don't know what else would earn an MoH if that doesn't.

    We've all read the citations about Major This or Colonel That, getting a Silver Star for "calmly directing operations from his bunker a mere five hundred yards from the fighting." This goes well beyond that.
     
  6. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    Actually Hathcock did only go back in once, because he stayed in the fire until he'd thrown all seven of the unconcious Marines from the trac to safety. So if he'd died of his burns instead of being crippled by them he'd rate a Medal of Honor also?

    From the article another vehicle and its troops were engaged, and Mr. Conner uses that to infer that Cashe's vehicle and personnel took fire. Actually from the description it sounds like the following vehicle fired on the insurgents, then the troops dismounted, and moved to engage the insurgents and captured them. I would think the awards board would require witness testimony that Cashe's crew had fire directed at them, before concluding his actions took place under fire.

    Now, say I agreed that Cache's actions were at a level above what normally rates a Silver Star, why not award the Distinguished Service Cross? It's the next higher award.

    [​IMG]

    This is a series of photos of a Marine and a Corpsman attempting to rescue a downed Marine in Fallujah. They were taking machine gun fire. Gunnery Sgt. Ryan P. Shane is the first man to reach the downed Marine, grabs his drag strap and attempts to pull him from the kill zone. Another machine gun burst downs Shane and the Corpsman is forced to pull back.
    From Newsweek:
    "Shane was in bad shape: his coccyx had been smashed, and his bladder, pancreas and intestines scrambled. In Germany and back at Bethesda Naval Hospital, surgeons operated on him 10 times, fishing out bullet shards and reattaching his viscera. After a month, the 250-pound Shane was down to 205 pounds, but his doctors and nurses, he says, were "absolutely incredible, first-rate."

    His award a Bronze Star with "V", a medical discharge, a broken body and everyday pain. So because his body was so devastated, we upgrade his Bronze Star to a Silver Star, and because we decide Cashe's Silver Star is worthy of a Medal of Honor, we upgrade Hathcock's to a Navy Cross because the acts were similar but Hathcock didn't die, was just permanently crippled?

    That's BS. Yes, that is often true of the Bronze Star, sometimes now referred to as the "Officer/POG Good Conduct Medal", when awarded for Meritorious service. The award now is often not given much respect within the military, unless the "V" device is attached. The Bronze Star with "V" still commands respect, but you often don't see the valor designator unless up close. In the Army, Marine Corps and Navy, the Silver Star, DSC and Navy Cross, and the Medal of Honor are still almost always given for justified actions (I won't speak to the Air Force because I don't know if their awards system has watered down the criteria for these awards). We all know there are exceptions to the rule like MacArthur's MoH, but they are rare. The vast majority of Silver Stars are given to NCO's and non-rates, not officers. Those officers that get the award (a large number posthumously) are mostly company grade and below. The few Majors I've come across all deserved the award. It is not a paultry award. Do we want to be less stringent with these awards that still hold their intended meaning?

    See for yourself:

    http://homeofheroes.com/valor/08_WOT/ss_GWOT/citations_USA.html

    http://homeofheroes.com/valor/08_WOT/ss_GWOT/citations_USMC.html

    Some examples:

    ALICEA, BENNY
    Synopsis:
    The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star Medal to Benny Alicea, Sergeant [then Specialist], U.S. Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with Company A, 2d Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 1st Cavalry Division, during combat operations in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, on 4 November 2004, in Iraq. Sergeant Alicea, then a Specialist serving as a rifleman and grenadier in Company A, was part of a door-to-door sweep to round up terrorist suspects when his squad was ambushed at a two-story house along the primary north-south road in Fallujah. Dropping back into the courtyard, with gunfire spraying out of the house and from across the street, Sergeant Alicea was struck in the hip and buttocks by shrapnel from two grenades that had been rolled through the front door. Moving away from the courtyard, the squad headed for the street. After continuing to fire on the house, Sergeant Alicea was the last to emerge. When his wounded leg gave out, he huddled into a position alongside three wounded comrades in the middle of the road as multiple rounds flew all around them. He continued firing his weapon at the insurgent forces until his own ammunition was exhausted. He then grabbed magazines from the wounded and managed to protect the position until another Bradley fighting vehicle arrived on the scene. He helped load the most seriously injured soldiers before finally being taken away himself. By his heroic actions he Sergeant Alicia saved the lives of three of his comrades.


    *BERNSTEIN, DAVID R. (KIA)
    Citation:
    The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to David R. Bernstein, First Lieutenant (Infantry), U.S. Army, for exceptionally valorous achievement while serving with Company C, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 173d Airborne Brigade, 101st Airborne Division, attached to the 4th Infantry Division, on 18 October 2003, while on patrol in Qutash, Iraq, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. First Lieutenant Bernstein, under extreme enemy fire, risked his life in an effort to rescue one of his soldiers. Although suffering from a mortar wound, First Lieutenant Bernstein extracted the driver to safety, directed the security of his objective, and repulsed the enemy forces before succumbing to his wounds. First Lieutenant Bernstein's actions are in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflect distinct credit upon himself, the 4th Infantry Division, Combined Joint Task Force SEVEN, and the United States Army.


    *DENNIS, JEROD R. (KIA)
    Synopsis:
    The President of the United States takes pride in presenting the Silver Star Medal (Posthumously) to Jerod R. Dennis, Private Second Class, U.S. Army, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving with the 3d Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82d Airborne Division, during combat operations in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, on 25 April 2003, in Afghanistan. Private First Class Dennis was part of a quick reaction force trying to help American soldiers under attack along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. He was trying to evacuate a wounded soldier who was bleeding to death when enemy fire struck his vehicle. Private Dennis volunteered to run back for help. He ran a mile before he found an Afghan Military Forces unit. He escorted them through the firefight to the wounded soldier, who survived. The fighting continued, and Private Dennis climbed into the back of a civilian pickup with two comrades to continue to ferry wounded soldiers to a casualty collection point. The truck was ambushed by anti-coalition forces, which bombarded him and the other soldiers with rocket-propelled grenades and gunfire. The truck spun out of control and was damaged. Private Dennis stood in the back of the truck and began firing at the guerrillas, allowing his comrades to escape and find cover. Despite being shot in the leg multiple times, he ignored his wounds and continued to attack the enemy until he, himself was mortally wounded.


    Pretty heroic stuff.
     

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