SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – President Joe Biden presented the Medal of Honor Thursday to three U.S. soldiers who fought in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Two, with ties to the Savannah area, were recognized posthumously.
“Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude today as we honor the unparalleled courage, the commitment to duty, and the indispensable, indisputable gallantry,” Biden said at the White House medal ceremony.
Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe, 35, died after rescuing fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq in 2005. He is the first Black U.S. service member to receive the nation’s highest military honor for valor for actions since Vietnam.
Cashe served in the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in a unit stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia. Earlier this year, the 3ID renamed the Marne Garden at Fort Stewart in his honor.
“As honored as you are, it’s gotta be tough to be here today,” the president told Cashe’s family.
Summerville, South Carolina, native Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz also received the medal for his life-saving efforts in Afghanistan in 2018.
The 32-year-old Celiz used his body to shield his team and an injured ally from enemy gunfire. His team had been loading a casualty onto a medical evacuation helicopter.
Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee received the honor for fighting off Taliban insurgents after an attack in Afghanistan in 2013.
He was responding to a massive explosion that caused a 60-foot breach in the base’s perimeter wall when 10 insurgents wearing Afghan National Army uniforms and suicide vests poured through.
Along with five other soldiers, Plumlee drove toward the explosion and used his own body to shield his driver from attack.
With only a pistol, Plumlee killed two insurgents and engaged several others at close range. He received injuries of his own but was able to help carry another wounded soldier to safety.
Plumlee reportedly underwent training at Georgia’s Fort Benning. He’s currently serving with the 1st Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Kate Celiz and Tamara Cashe accepted the medals on behalf of their families.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.