Joe Biden presents the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Master Sergeant Earl D. Plumlee during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C. on December 16, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
UPDATED 6:44 PM PT – Thursday, December 16, 2021
Three American heroes were awarded the Medal of Honor for their service during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The nation’s highest military award was bestowed on Thursday to Army Sgt. First Class Alwyn Cashe, Army Sgt. First Class Christopher Celiz and Army Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee. However, two of the soldiers received the award posthumously.
In 2005, Cashe helped save six soldiers from a burning vehicle under enemy fire in Iraq. Cashe had sustained second and third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body and succumbed several weeks later to his injuries.
He was awarded the Silver Star for his heroism, but Cashe’s family and supporters fought for years to prove the fallen soldier deserved the Medal of Honor for his actions. To honor him, Trump signed a bill in 2020 that cleared the way for Cashe to receive the award.
Reps. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.) and Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) introduced the bill and now Cashe is getting the recognition he deserves.
“He sacrificed his life so others could live, and I think that is the ultimate sacrifice…a true embodiment of what being a hero means,” said Murphy.
Meanwhile in 2018, Celiz was leading an operation in Afghanistan to clear the area of enemy forces.
“Attacked and pinned down by a large force, the Sergeant exposed himself to the enemy fire in order to retrieve heavy weapons systems that allowed his team to fight back and reach a secure location,” Joe Biden stated.
During the fire fight, a member of his team was critically wounded as they called for medical evaluation.
“But as the rescue helicopter arrived and began taking fire as well, the Sergeant knew it was time. It was critical to get his wounded teammate loaded and treated. So, he once again, knowingly and willingly stepped into the enemy’s crosshairs,” Biden went on. “Sgt. Celiz used his body as a shield for the aircraft and his crew against the heavy incoming fire.”
The helicopter began to take off and Celiz once again fought to protect service members, but was hit by incoming fire. Yet, he told those aboard the helicopter to leave without him in order to save the wounded soldier’s life. Celiz died of his wounds, but was honored for his sacrifice.
Lastly in 2013, Plumlee helped fight off a suicide attack at a base in Afghanistan. His actions awarded him a Silver Star as he was initially turned down to receive the Medal of Honor.
However, fellow soldiers were upset and sought to upgrade Plumlee to the nation’s highest military honor for his heroic actions. Just before Plumlee received the award, he stated the medal was not just his alone.
“My entire team that was with me that day played a huge part in making sure that we were successful. It’s representative of the Special Forces regiment and all the operators protecting this country day in and day out,” Plumlee said. “It’s representative of the U.S. Army. And I’m just extremely humbled to be apart of this.”