President Donald Trump plans on awarding Army Sergeant Major Thomas P. Payne the medal of honor on Sept. 11, 2020. Sgt. Major Payne helped rescue 70 hostages who were being held hostage by Islamic State militants in Iraq in 2015.
Sgt. Maj. Payne is an instructor assigned to the United States Army Special Operations Command. He grew up in the Batesburg-Leesville and Lugoff areas in South Carolina.
Payne was in highschool when the September 11th attacks happened. This had a huge impact on Payne. After he graduated in 2002 he enlisted into the Army as an Infantryman 11B.
By the end of 2002, Payne had completed the Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. From there he entered the Ranger Indoctrination Program, which is now known as the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program.
After he graduated from there — in early 2003 — he was assigned as a rifleman to the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment. He later became a sniper and then sniper team leader until November 2007.
He was then selected for assignment to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command located in Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He has since served as a special operations team member, assistant, team sergeant. He has also become the team sergeant and instructor whilst there.
Payne has been deployed 17 times in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation New Dawn, and Operation Iraqi. He has also been deployed to assist in Operation Inherent Resolve and to the U.S. Africa Command area of responsibility.
On Sept. 3, 2020, the White House announced that Trump will be recognized Army Sgt. Maj. Payne for “conspicuous gallantry.”
Sergeant Major Payne led a combined assault team in a fearless “nighttime hostage rescue.” The rescue took place in Kirkuk Province in Iraq. The statement further said that his example of exceptional “heroism and selfless actions” was essential in rescuing “75” people. During the “rescue mission’ in which “20 enemy fighters” were eliminated.
The Medal of Honor is the highest and most prestigious award in the U.S. Military. In order to receive this decoration, the recipients have to demonstrate “incontestable proof of the performance of the meritorious conduct, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit.”
President Trump is scheduled to give Sergent Major Payne his Medal of Honor on the 19th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.
Written by Sheena Robertson
CBS: South Carolina soldier to receive Medal of Honor for Iraq hostage rescue; Associated Press, WLTX
CNN: Trump to award Medal of Honor to Army Ranger for Iraq hostage rescue; Paul Leblanc
U.S. Army: SERGEANT MAJOR THOMAS P. PAYNE
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