On the anniversary of the 9/11 Terror attacks, President Donald Trump is awarding Army Sgt. Major Thomas Payne with the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry. The White House announced the news on Thursday.
During a nighttime raid in Iraq, Sgt. Payne freed 75 hostages, Fox News reports. In October of 2015, Payne led a hostage rescue mission in the Kirkuk Province of Iraq.
Payne and his team freed 38 hostages upon clearing the first building. He then responded to a call for help in clearing another building. While doing so, Payne engaged in fire with enemy combatants.
He managed to destroy the lock on the door of another building which permitted his fellow soldiers to enter and evacuate many more hostages. Not only did he free the hostages under enemy fire, but also the second building was collapsing at the time.
The White House praised Payne for his “speed, audacity, and courage.”
Donald Trump and the White House Release Statement on Honoring Army Sgt. Major Payne
The White Hosue released a statement in regards to the decision to honor Sgt. Payne. “Sergeant Payne’s extraordinary heroism and selfless actions were key to liberating 75 hostages during a contested rescue mission that resulted in 20 enemy fighters killed in action,” the statement reads.
“Sergeant Payne knowingly risked his own life by bravely entering the building under intense enemy fire, enduring smoke, heat, and flames to identify the armored door imprisoning the hostages,” the White House said. “His courageous actions motivated the coalition assault team members to enter the breach and assist with cutting the locks.”
The Medal of Honor marks the highest decoration a Military member can receive.
In addition to awarding Sgt. Payne the Medal of Honor, President Donald Trump plans to visit the Flight 93 National Memorial site in Shankesville, PA.
On Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda terrorists hijacked Flight 93. Authorities believe the terrorists intended to target the U.S. Capitol building. However, the plane crashed in a Somerset County Field after passengers aboard the aircraft attempted to retake control.
[H/T Fox News]