President Donald Trump has held several notable ceremonies to honor the sacrifice and heroism of Americans from all walks of life — including a particularly meaningful event this week on the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The president awarded U.S. Army Delta Force Sgt. Major Thomas “Patrick” Payne the Medal of Honor on Friday in recognition of his efforts to help free dozens of hostages from ISIS terrorists during a mission in Iraq about five years ago, as reported by Fox News.
“Pat was called to action”
It was the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that inspired Payne to join the armed forces shortly after graduating from high school, as Trump mentioned in his remarks during the ceremony.
“His teacher solemnly told the students that their generation had a fight to win,” the president said. “In that moment, Pat was called to action. He knew that his country needed him.”
It was on his 14th deployment in October 2015 that he participated in a raid alongside Iraqi military forces of an ISIS prison near Hawija in response to intelligence reports that captives would soon be massacred and dumped into freshly dug graves.
Payne was reportedly under fire as he broke into the buildings — one of which was in flames — and encountered terrorists who detonated suicide vests. U.S. and Iraqi soldiers made their way through the facility cutting locks and freeing those being kept inside.
Reports show that Payne went into the building twice more after his first entry, escorting hostages out until he made sure no one else remained inside.
“He was the last one out”
“He was the last man to leave,” Trump said. “He wouldn’t leave, no matter what they said, no matter who ordered him to do it. He was the last one out.”
The president concluded that Payne deserved the honor for going “above and beyond the call of duty” as part of “one of the largest and most daring rescue missions in American history.”
Twenty insurgents were killed in the missions, as well as one American soldier. Master Sgt. Josh Wheeler’s widow was in attendance during Friday’s ceremony.
“Our nation endures because fearless warriors, like Josh, are willing to lay down their lives for our freedom,” Trump said. “Our children can grow up in peace because Josh had the courage to face down evil. Our debt to him and to you is everlasting.”
While 9/11 is a bloody chapter in American history that continues to impact life today, the sacrifices of Payne, Wheeler, and countless others have consistently reflected the very best of this nation’s character.