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Medal of Honor for Sgt. Maj. Thomas P. Payne

Friday, September 11, 2020

What is it?

Sgt. Maj. Thomas P. Payne is being awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest award of valor, for his combat actions as an assistant team leader, in support of Operation Inherent Resolve in Hawija, Iraq, on Oct. 22, 2015.

Then-Sgt. 1st Class Thomas P. Payne as part of a Special Operations Joint Task Force, one of the largest hostage rescue operations in Special Operations history, was given a mission to rescue over 70 Iraqi hostages being held by ISIS in a prison compound in the northern town of Hawija. Payne exposed himself to enemy fire; entered a burning building multiple times to allow his team to reach their objective. He provided much required leadership to his Kurdish partners; and risked his life multiple times to ensure the safe evacuation of the hostages.

This is the first Medal of Honor being awarded for actions undertaken in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. The President of the United States will present the Medal of Honor to Payne at a White House Ceremony on Sept. 11, 2020, at 3:00 p.m. EDT.

What are the current and past efforts of the Army?

Sgt. Maj. Payne’s service has previously been recognized with numerous awards and medals, including the Bronze Star Medal with “V” device and three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Ranger Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Military Freefall Jumpmaster Badge, and Purple Heart among others.

To tell Payne’s heroic story, the Office of the Chief of Public Affairs has created a microsite that includes his biography and videos about his experience.

The White House ceremony will be live-streamed from Sgt. Maj. Thomas Payne’s microsite.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned?

In addition to the ceremony at the White House, DOD and Army senior leaders will recognize Payne during a Hall of Heroes induction ceremony, at the Pentagon. This ceremony will be announced at a later date. The ceremony will be live streamed from Payne’s Medal of Honor microsite.

Why is this important to the Army?

The Army’s greatest assets are its people - the finest men and women the nation has to offer. The Army’s commitment to honor the brave men and women in its ranks and showcase their patriotism to the nation offers a glimpse of the heroism and courage embedded in the Soldiers.

Sgt. Maj. Payne’s actions stand as a testament to those who put everything on the line to accomplish the mission, defeat the enemy, and ensure the safety of everyone on the battlefield, at any cost. Payne’s heroic actions to rescue 70 hostages went above and beyond the call of duty. The Army is proud to recognize Payne’s dedication to duty, service, and personal courage in full view of a new generation.


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September 2020

National Suicide Prevention Month

National Preparedness Month

Sept. 11: Patriot Day

Sept. 15- Oct. 15: Hispanic Heritage Month | Visit Hispanics in the U.S. Army

Sept. 18: POW/MIA Recognition Day

Sept. 27: Gold Star Mothers and Family’s Day | Visit Gold Star Survivors

October 2020

National Diability Employment Awarenss Month

Energy Action Month | Visit ASA (IEE)

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Oct. 13-16: AUSA Annual Meeting

Focus Quote for the Day

The Medal of Honor represents everything great about our country, and for me I don’t consider myself a recipient of this medal, I consider myself a guardian of this medal. What’s important for me is that my teammates’ legacies will live on with this Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor Recipient Sgt. Maj. Thomas Payne

Video: Sgt. Maj. Thomas P. Payne recalls the mission (7:09 – 7:26)