“Today we honor three outstanding soldiers whose actions embodied the highest ideals of selfless service,” Biden said in an address.
“We also remember the high price military members and their families are willing to pay on behalf of our nation,” he said.
The medal of honor is the highest military decoration and is awarded for acts of gallantry above and bey0nd the call of duty.
Those honored were Master Sgt. Earl Plumlee, Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Celiz, and Sgt. 1st Class Alwyn Cashe. Celiz and Cashe both died in the actions they were honored for.
Plumlee, a Special Forces soldier, fought off Taliban insurgents after an attack in Afghanistan in 2013.
Plumlee and five others were in two vehicles responding to an explosion that breached the perimeter wall at a U.S. forward operating base in Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan.
He engaged multiple insurgents armed only with a pistol, advancing within seven meters of a previously wounded insurgent who detonated his suicide vest, blowing Plumlee back against a nearby wall.
Plumlee ignored his injuries, was able to render first aid to a wounded soldier, and ultimately clear the area of insurgents.
He is currently serving with the 1st Special Forces Group at Fort Lewis, Washington.
Sergeant First Class Christopher Celiz, who died in a 2018 firefight in Afghanistan, was also honored. Celiz, 32, an Army Ranger, was shot as he took action to allow a U.S. helicopter to evacuate a wounded fellow service member.
Celiz voluntarily exposed himself to intense Taliban machine-gun and small-arms fire to retrieve and employ a heavy weapon system, allowing U.S. and partnered forces to maneuver to a secure location, and begin treatment of a critically wounded partnered force member.
After he was hit by enemy fire Celiz motioned to the helicopter to depart rather than remain behind to load him, an action that was said to certainly have saved lives.
Sergeant First Class Alwyn C. Cashe, 35, also received the honor posthumously. Cashe died as a result of burns suffered while rescuing fellow soldiers from a burning vehicle in Iraq in 2005.
Cashe was serving as a platoon sergeant with Company A, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division in Salah Ad Din Province, Iraq, on Oct. 17, 2005.
The vehicle which Cashe was commanding was attacked by enemy small-arms fire and an improvised explosive device, which disabled the vehicle and engulfed it in flames.
Cashe’s fuel-soaked uniform ignited and caused severe burns to his body. He ignored the wounds and was able to extract and help four other soldiers in the vehicle.
When medical evacuation helicopters arrived, Cashe selflessly refused evacuation until all of the other wounded soldiers were evacuated first.
Kate Celiz and Tamara Cashe accepted the medals on behalf of their families.