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U.S Ranger Receives the Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is the highest military medal awarded by the United States and must be awarded by the President. The requirements for the medal are: “risk of their own life above and beyond the call of duty in action against an enemy of the United States.” This makes it a very rare medal to see on a soldier not to mention on a living one. However on September 11, 2020, Army Ranger Sergeant Major Thomas “Patrick” Payne was awarded the Medal of Honor and still continues to serve to this day. 


Sergeant Major Thomas Payne was born on April 2, 1984 in South Carolina and joined the Army in 2002 on July 25, 2002. He then joined the Ranger Indoctrination program in 2003. He was a rifleman in the 1st Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment where he was also a sniper team leader until November 2007. In 2010 he was wounded in a grenade blast in Afghanistan, but survived and in 2012 won the Best Ranger competition with his teammate Master Sergeant Kevin Foutz.


On October 22, 2015, Sergeant Major Thomas Payne and his team learned about hostages being held at the town of Hawija, in the Kirkuk Province. They moved in to stop the execution of the 70 hostages there. The team landed via CH-47 Chinook helicopter and made their way to two different compounds. Kurdish troops that were present tried blowing open the walls which failed and ISIS troops fired back immediately, killing Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler. 


Payne and his team then suppressed the ISIS soldiers at the first building and then freed the 30 hostages trapped inside the building. They then made their way to the second building to help out Kurdish troops that were suppressed there. Payne and a Kurdish commando tried to enter from the roof but couldn’t get in so from there they attacked ISIS troops from the roof until an ISIS soldier detonated a suicide vest forcing them down to try to find another entry point. They found one and made their way into the building. Payne got one door lock open but had to leave due to heavy smoke and gun fire. The Kurdish command failed to get his lock open and retreated. Payne made his way back into the building and cut the last lock freeing the rest of the hostages. The order was given to retreat but he stayed behind to guide the hostages. He then left after going in three more times and formed a protective circle with his team to get them to the helicopters.


On September 11, 2020, Thomas Payne was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Donald Trump, the 45th President of the United States. The Citation wrote, “Upon hearing a request for additional assaulters to assist with clearing the other building, Sergeant Payne, on his own initiative, left his secured position, exposing himself to enemy fire as he bounded across the compound to the other building from which entrenched enemy forces were engaging his comrades.” 


The courage that Payne showed reflects the courage of all soldiers that are serving today. Thomas Payne continues to serve in the armed forces to this day.