Who is Alwyn Cashe? Steelers's Alejandro Villanueva honors Army hero with his name on helmet
Villanueva was a former Army Ranger and his helmet had Cashe's name who was killed by an explosive in 2005 while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom
The Pittsburgh Steelers had Twitter abuzz when they unfurled the banner that read "Steelers against Racism" on Monday ahead of the season opener against the New York Giants. In addition, the team had agreed to wear the name of Antwon Rose Jr, a Black teen who was fatally shot by the police officers in 2018. Except, offensive lineman Alejandro Villanueva decided to wear a different name — Alwyn Cashe, a fallen military hero.
Villanueva was a former Army Ranger and his helmet had Cashe's name who was killed by an explosive in 2005 while serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He is survived by a wife and a daughter, 12. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star for valor.
Who was Alwyn Cashe?
According to the Military Times, Cashe's unit was ambushed in October 2005 with his fighting vehicle erupting in flames. The site says he was severely wounded after being drenched in gasoline, that though didn't deter him from returning to the transport. He attempted to rescue the soldiers in the vehicle. By the time the last of the men were free, he was one of the severely injured and he succumbed to the wounds at the Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, on November 8.
The site also quoted his sister, Kasinal Cashe White. "I told him, 'Don’t go over there playing a hero. You learn how to duck and come home.' He replied, "'I’m doing the job I was trained to do. I have to take care of my boys'." According to his family, while he escaped unhurt initially, he suffered second and third-degree burns when he attempted to rescue his mates. Cashe joined the army in 1988 after graduating from Oviedo High. He had served a tour in Iraq and had fought in the first Gulf War.
Villanueva hasn't commented as to why he wore Cashe's name yet. These names to the helmets were permitted by the NFL as their way of supporting players to "honor victims of systemic racism, victims of police brutality, and social justice heroes".
Coach Mike Tomlin said the lineman had discussed the name ahead of their game. "As an organization, and myself as the head coach of the organization, we’re going to support our players however they chose to participate and express themselves, or to not participate or not express themselves, as long as they do so thoughtfully and with class," he said. Villanueva's decision to wear Cashe's name earned him respect and praise on Twitter.