Trump lauds Medal of Honor recipient for hostage rescue

Donald Trump
President Donald Trump awards the Medal of Honor to Army Sgt. Maj. Thomas P. Payne in the East Room of the White House on Friday, Sept. 11, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has bestowed the Medal of Honor on a U.S. soldier for his role in a daring 2015 mission to rescue dozens of hostages set to be executed by Islamic State militants in Iraq.

Sgt. Maj. Thomas “Patrick” Payne was assigned to lead a team clearing one of two buildings known to house hostages in a nighttime operation in the northern province of Kirkuk. Payne and his team faced a barrage of gunfire, militants exploding suicide vests and stifling smoke as they rescued hostages from a burning building.

He was initially given the Army’s second-highest award, the Distinguished Service Cross, which was upgraded to a Medal of Honor.

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