How Army Ranger Sgt. Maj. Thomas "Patrick" Payne Rescued 75 Hostages From ISIS

Last updated: November 20, 2023

Sgt. Maj. Thomas "Patrick" Payne is a hero of the United States Army. He played a critical role in one of the largest hostage rescues of all time.

Payne grew up surrounded by people who served in the military. When he finally joined the army, his goal was to become an Army Ranger. He accomplished this quickly, rising through the ranks as a dedicated special operator.

In 2007, he joined the Army Special Operations Command in Fort Bragg, North Carolina as a 75th Ranger Regiment sniper.

Sgt. Maj. Thomas "Patrick" Payne's Incredible Service Record

Sgt. Maj. Thomas "Patrick" Payne has earned an incredible service record, receiving over 20 medals for his valor. The most distinguished of these were the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star with a V device (for valor), and the Medal of Honor.

Payne received the Purple Heart in 2010 when a grenade blast injured him in Afghanistan. The injuries were severe enough to warrant months of recovery and rehabilitation.

However, Payne was no quitter. He came back better and stronger than before, ready to continue his service as a dedicated operator.

Not long after his recovery, Payne and his teammate Master Sergeant Kevin Foutz won the Army’s Best Ranger Competition. This unstoppable duo pushed through 60 hours of continuous events designed to stretch their physical and mental abilities without even considering giving up.

The Infamous Hostage Rescue

In October 2015 Payne was a part of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq. The task force faced a critical mission to rescue dozens of Iraqi hostages held in an ISIS prison. The hostages were mostly Iraqi security forces and ISIS was planning to execute them all.

Payne and his team, along with a group of Kurdish Special Forces, boarded their CH-47 Chinook helicopters and set out for the prison. The goal was to fly to the prison, mount an assault, and save the prisoners.

Payne's team executed a swift operation, dropping into the prison and rapidly freeing about 40 hostages. However, the situation escalated as Kurdish forces, engaged in the same operation, found themselves under intense fire, pinned down by ISIS defenders.

Payne and a few other soldiers didn't hesitate to help the Kurdish forces, rushing through withering gunfire to reach them. He climbed a ladder to gain a height advantage in the firefight, despite enemy shooters trying to pick him off.

Payne reached the roof and began throwing grenades at the enemy below who had begun to set off their suicide vests. Blasts shook the building, but Payne refused to give up.

He would not leave the Kurdish forces and the remaining hostages behind.

"…Once you’re able to control your fear, that’s the bridge to personal courage and personal courage is contagious on the battlefield."

Sgt. Major Thomas P. Payne

Sgt. Maj. Thomas "Patrick" Payne Braves it all

Despite smoke, fire, and devastating gunfire, Payne and a Kurdish commando braved it all to get to the door between the hostages and freedom. They breached the door and managed to rescue about 30 more hostages before the building collapsed.

Having rescued all the hostages within their reach, the U.S. and Kurdish special operators joined forces, forming a human wall to shield the rescued individuals from harm. The commandos moved efficiently and took out all resistance with deadly precision.

Ultimately, the operation concluded with around 75 hostages being rapidly led to the on-standby Chinook helicopters, ensuring their safe and successful return to the base.

If it hadn't been for the incredible heroism of Sgt. Major Thomas P. Payne, none of them likely would have made it out alive. Moreover, without this intervention, the Kurdish commandos would have likely faced certain decimation.

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 the United States Army as a special operations instructor.

Source: US Dept. Of Defense

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24 comments on “How Army Ranger Sgt. Maj. Thomas "Patrick" Payne Rescued 75 Hostages From ISIS”

  1. The bravery of these men is indescribable, their love of Country and SHOWING the rest of the USA what it is to love your country THIS much! If my salute would be seen, I WOULD salute each & every ONE & SHOW them the gratitude they deserve..

  2. I'm so proud to know how wonderful our special forces are & he is just a great example of the American Spirit to make the world a better place! God Bless all of them for their brave actions!

    I am proud to be an American Patriot!

    1. Whatever are his beliefs........GOD BLESSES HIM.........BLESS all our military that protect us from all our enemies.........Too bad they can't save WE THE LEGAL PEOPLE from the DEMS/RINOS and those two terrorists in OUR WHITE HOUSE....JB & KH..............

  3. I cannot even imagine. He is such a great hero. He is amazing. Hod bless him and all our wonderful soldier! 🙏🏻

  4. What makes soldiers like Sgt. Maj. Payne even more special is if you ask them about it, they will say they were just doing their job. No brag, no claiming all the glory to themselves. They will tell you that it was a team effort.

  5. I will always salute America's military people. They are the prime example of a force for good against evil. History trumpets the fact that America's military single-handedly freed Asia from Japanese Imperialism and occupation. To all the brave men and women, I have nothing but a Big Thank You to all your wonderful work. May you stay strong and courageous as ever.

  6. I want to thank all the men and woman that serve in our military. My father was a Navy jet pilot so I was brought up in that life. My mother and I made many sacrifices went he was on the Navy carriers.

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  9. What the USA used to be all about! Maybe things are not that bad: I would like to believe that Payne is a beacon in what some view as a world-wide attack of cynicism and avarice and that his heroism is contagious.

  10. THANK YOU Sgt. Maj. Thomas "Patrick" Payne, FOR YOUR SERVICE TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA. MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND REMAIN WITH YOU ALL THE DAYS OF YOUR LIFE. YOU AREA TRUE HERO.

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