On this day of September 11th, we remember the victims of the deadly terror attack in New York that shook our nation 19 years ago.
We also remember the heroes who gave their lives on that fateful day in the service of saving others.
We will never forget 911, and we will never forget the sacrifice that our military men and women have made to protect our country and our way of life.
In the spirit of honoring heroes, U.S. Army Sgt. Major Thomas “Patrick” Payne was just presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor today by President Donald Trump for his heroics in a daring raid to save 75 ISIS hostages in northern Iraq back in 2015.
His actions helped save those 75 lives, and also led to 20 ISIS terrorists killed.
President Trump praised Payne as “one of the bravest men anywhere in the world.”
God bless you Sgt. Major Payne, and God Bless America.
Army Sergeant Major Thomas Payne is presented with the Medal of Honor
Our friends at Fox News have more on this very special moment:
President Trump presented the Congressional Medal of Honor Friday to U.S. Army Sgt. Major Thomas “Patrick” Payne for his heroics in a 2015 daring raid that rescued 75 ISIS hostages from a prison in northern Iraq, with Trump praising him as "one of the bravest men anywhere in the world."
Trump hailed Payne's heroic selfless action that led to 20 ISIS terrorists killed and saving the lives of the 75 captives.
"Today he joins the immortal company of our most revered American heroes," Trump said in the White House ceremony. "Pat, you personify the motto: 'Rangers lead the way.'"
Payne, 36, is the first living member of the Delta Force to receive the Medal of Honor, the highest decoration a member of the military can be given.
Payne spoke about the life-or-death urgency of the October 2015 mission in an interview posted by the Army.
"My team was responsible for one of the buildings that the hostages were being held in," Payne said. "What was significant is that there were freshly dug graves, if we didn't action this target then the hostages will probably be executed."
As soon as Payne's team hit the ground in the Kirkuk Province, they came under heavy enemy fire. Master Sgt. Josh Wheeler, another Delta Force operator, was killed after exposing himself to enemy fire. Wheeler's widow, Ashley, attended the ceremony Friday.
After Payne and his team cleared one building – and freed 38 hostages – the sergeant responded to call for assistance in clearing another building.
Working with Kurdish forces, Payne's team pressed on and helped secure one of the largest hostage rescues in history.
ABC News with more on Payne's heroics:
Payne will become the first living soldier to receive the Medal of Honor for actions carried out while as a member of Delta Force. Master Sgt. Gary Gordon and Sgt. First Class Randy Shughart received the award posthumously for their actions during the attack in Mogadishu now known as “Black Hawk Down”.
On the night of the 2015 raid, Payne’s team had flown in by helicopter targeting a two-building compound housing the prisoners.
The American team stepped in to help the Kurdish special operations team after they immediately became engaged in a vicious firefight.
After leading a team that quickly secured the first building freeing 38 hostages, Payne rushed to help with the assault on the second building.
With that building partially on fire, he climbed a ladder to rooftop and lobbed grenades and fired at enemy fighters below.
At ground level he engaged enemy fighters through a breach hole to the side of the building before entering the building’s main entrance through withering enemy fire.
Locating the room where 37 additional hostages were being held, Payne rushed out of the building to get bolt cutters to cut the locks on the door’s locking mechanism.
“His courageous actions motivated the coalition assault team members to enter the breach and assist with cutting the locks,” said a White House statement announcing his Medal of Honor award.
Payne exited the building to catch his breath before going back in to make the final lock cuts on the door freeing the 37 hostages and steered them towards a waiting helicopter.
With the building ablaze and on the verge of collapse, Payne re-entered the building under enemy fire to make sure that no prisoners had been left behind.
Only six other service members who have served in Iraq have been awarded the Medal of Honor, and only one of them has not been awarded posthumously.