Sgt. Maj. Thomas ‘Patrick’ Payne, a Delta Force soldier, received the Medal of Honor from President Trump on Friday. Payne was awarded the honor for his role in a raid that freed more than 70 Iraqi hostages from an Islamic State prison compound in 2015.
On the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Trump gave the prestigious valor award to Sgt. Maj. Thomas Payne during a ceremony at the White House. Payne is a 39-year-old Delta Force soldier and is the first living Delta Force member in history to receive this honor.
Delta Force is a special operations unit of the US Army.
The other two Delta Force Sergeants to receive the medal were killed in the Battle of Mogadishu in Somalia in 1993. The base for the movie Black Hawk Down.
During the mission, Payne and other soldiers fought against enemy bullets to rescue hostages set to be executed by militants of the Islamic State in Iraq.
President Trump celebrated Payne, saying he was “one of the bravest men anywhere in the world.”
Trump continued, saying, “today he joins the immortal company of our most revered American heroes. Pat, you personify the motto: ‘Rangers, lead the way.”
The Medal of Honor is the highest decoration a member of the military can receive.
Payne was accompanied by his wife, Alison, and six-year-old son, as well as Ashley Wheeler. Wheeler is the wife of Master Sgt. Josh Wheeler who was killed during the mission.
Wheeler is the first American killed in action since 2014 when the US launched renewed military operations in Iraq’s Islamic State.
Payne paid tribute to his fallen comrade calling him an American hero that didn’t hesitate while fighting in the dangerous mission.
“Master Sgt. Wheeler is an American hero, and we are lucky to have men like Josh in the United States Army,” said Payne.
President Trump described the mission, saying, “He ran right back into that raging blaze. He sliced the final lock and released the rest of the hostages.”
The President concluded, saying, “As the building began to collapse, he received orders to evacuate, but he refused to do so. He didn’t want to leave anyone behind.”
The rescue mission took place in the northern Iraq province of Kirkuk on the night of October 22, 2015.
Payne’s team saved 70 hostages while killing 20 ISIS soldiers.
Payne’s Military Experience
The decorated soldier joined the military in 2002 as an infantryman; however, he excelled and quickly became a Ranger.
He has been deployed 17 times to various combat zones as a member of the 75th Ranger Regiment, while also leading in multiple positions with the US Army Special Operations Command.
Payne also has a Purple Heart from a wound he got during a mission in Afghanistan in 2010.
[H/T Daily Mail]