Sgt. Maj. Thomas “Patrick” Payne was an important part of one of the United States’ biggest military rescues in history. Payne grew up around those in service.
When he joined the army, his goal was to become an Army Ranger, a goal he made the following year. Payne was assigned to the 75th Ranger Regiment as a sniper.
In 2007, he became a part of the Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Payne received the Purple Heart in 2010. A grenade blast injured him in Afghanistan. He was so severely injured that he had to go to rehab.
He came back better and stronger than before. Payne even won the 2012 Army Best Ranger Competition.
He and his partner pushed through 60 hours of continuous events designed to stretch their physical and mental abilities.
In October 2015, Payne was a part of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. Dozens of Iraqi hostages were in an ISIS prison, and Payne and the task forces mission was to rescue them.
The hostages mainly were Iraqi security forces, and ISIS was planning to execute them all. Payne and his team, along with Kurdish Special Forces, all got into CH-47 Chinook helicopters.
They dropped into the prison, and scaled the wall. They freed 38 hostages and took them to safety. However, it wasn’t as smooth for the other portion of the team.
Payne and his team jumped at the chance to go help. They fought their way through way gunfire for 30 yards, making it to a ladder taking them up to the second building’s roof.
Payne began to throw grenades at the enemy below, who had begun to set off their suicide vests. Blasts started to shake the building, so Payne and his team opted to find another way in.
While battling smoke and gunfire, they were able to kick the door in. However, the building began to crumble.
Payne refused to leave getting all of the hostages out of the building. It was rough leaving the compound too.
The forces made a human wall to protect the 75 hostages. They all were placed into the Chinook helicopters and flown to safety.
On September 11, 2020, President Trump awarded Payne the Medal of Honor for his bravery and courage that day.
He continues to live in Fort Bragg and serves army as a special operations instructor.
Source: US Dept. Of Defense