President Donald Trump presented the Medal of Honor to Army sergeant major Thomas “Patrick” Payne on Friday, five years after he saved 75 hostages from being executed by ISIS fighters in Iraq.
Payne freed the hostages after sprinting through a burning ISIS-held building as terrorist detonated suicide vests in nearby rooms, Trump said. Grabbing a pair of bolt cutters, he cut locks off the doors trapping dozens of hostages, running back into the building to save more people even against orders to evacuate the area.
“I want you to know that your dad is one of the bravest men anywhere in the world,” Trump told Payne’s daughter, Erin. (RELATED: 9/11 Moment Of Silence Moved Up Because Obama Was Impatient)
Pres Trump clasps the Medal of Honor around the neck of Sergeant Major Thomas “Pat” Payne, for his valor and intrepidity which serving in combat in Iraq in 2015. Payne currently serves as an instructor at the US Army Special Operations Command. pic.twitter.com/EjTguSRFty
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) September 11, 2020
Payne has served 17 deployments and now serves at the U.S. Army special Operations Command as a training instructor. He was first wounded in Iraq when a grenade shattered his knee in 2010. While he went home to make a full recovery, he returned to service and carried out the rescue that earned him the Medal of Honor in 2015.
“There comes a time when sympathy is over,” Payne said when returning to service, according to the Army. “It’s time to get to work and get back out there.”
The Army reports that the Kurdish Regional Government contacted Payne’s unit in Iraq, saying Iraqi security forces had been captured and were facing execution by ISIS fighters.
“Our partners came to us for assistance and we’re not going to let them down,” Payne said at the time. “Time was of the essence. There were freshly dug graves. If we didn’t action this raid, then the hostages were likely to be executed.”
Payne credits his decision enter the military to watching the 9/11 terrorist attacks take place while sitting in his childhood school. He says he chose the Army after watching an ESPN segment on the annual Army’s Best Ranger Competition when he was 17.
He would go on to win the Army’s Best Ranger Competition in 2012.