MILITARY MATTERS: Family Members of Medal of Honor Recipients, One From Columbus, Tell Their Heroes’ Stories
Washington DC (WTVM) - It is the US government’s highest and most prestigious military decoration. Several men recently received it, including an Army war hero from Columbus. Their family members are talking about this emotional honor, the Medal of Honor, for these three soldiers.
Kalinas Cashe-White always believed this day would come, even if she had to wait 16 years for her little brother, Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe to get the credit many felt he deserved.
“No soldier was going to be left behind on his watch,” President Biden said at the ceremony this month.
But his sister would trade this special day a million times to redo October 17th, 2005.
“June 2005, the last time I saw him, I told him I need you to duck…don’t be a hero…and come home,” Cashe-White said.
SFC Cashe, who was stationed on Fort Benning, had deployed to Iraq before, but this time, his Bradley fighting vehicle hit a roadside bomb. It was engulfed in flames, but he went back to the vehicle again and again, to pull out six of his men and an Iraqi interpreter.
“When people say time heals all, they have not walked in my shoes. It never gets easier. You don’t cry as long - let’s just say - it doesn’t get easier,” Cashe-White added.
SFC Cashe was awarded the silver star, but his men and his sister always felt he had earned the Medal of Honor.
President Biden described him as “a warrior who literally walked through fire for his troops.”
And potentially more special than the award is the company in the white house on that special day, including Katie Celiz to honor her husband.
“I used to ask him before every deployment: please don’t be a hero…just go there, do your job, and come back…and he always told me that he couldn’t make that kind of promise,” Celiz said.
Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz was on his second deployment to Afghanistan. On July 12 2018, he led a team to clear out enemy forces when they came under heavy fire. Celiz put himself in the line of fire to protect a med-evac helicopter.
“I think for him to like step back and not deploy or to even get out of the army was in a way abandoning his fellow soldiers and for him, I don’t think he could ever do that,” Katie Celiz said.
It’s a common theme in this group - never abandon your fellow soldier, because they would never abandon you. Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee had been in firefights before, during deployments around the world, but never like this.
“Usually you’re not hip deep in suicide bombers next to the chow hall - we typically do it differently,” MSG Plumlee said.
On August 28, 2013, suicide bombers attacked his base in Afghanistan, wearing Afghan national army uniforms. Plumlee moved toward the attack, armed at first only with a pistol. He withdrew, only to advance again and again to stop the attack.
The legacy of these heroes cemented, and for SFC Cashe, a portrait by Columbus artist Bunny Hinzman will also hang at the National Infantry Museum.
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