President Donald Trump plans to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to a U.S. Army Sgt. Major who led a perilous nighttime raid in Iraq that led to the rescue of 75 hostages.
According to reports, President Trump will bestow the Medal of Honor on U.S. Army Sgt. Major Thomas Payne on the 19th anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks.
The White House confirmed that Payne would be receiving the award, the highest and most-prestigious personal military decoration the U.S. can give, for conspicuous gallantry.
A statement from the White House read: “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.”
In October 2015, Payne led an assault team on a nighttime raid in Iraq’s Kirkuk Province. He and his team were able to clear one building – freeing 38 hostages in the process – before Payne moved on to assist another team in clearing a second building.
A firefight with enemy insurgents ensued, whereafter Payne broke the lock on the door to the second building to allow his fellow soldiers to breach the room. Payne then led the evacuation of hostages, who had been condemned to execution by ISIS, as the building was collapsing around them.
The White House’s statement continued: “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.
“His courageous actions motivated the coalition assault team members to enter the breach and assist with cutting the locks.”
It’s stories like this that really warm my heart and restore my faith and pride in being an American citizen.
God bless all of our serving men and women – you keep us safe and do the job nobody wants to do.
And congratulations, Sgt. Major Thomas Payne, you are a true hero and a truly great American.
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