An Army Ranger who risked his life to save dozens of hostages facing imminent execution by ISIS fighters will be awarded the Medal of Honor, the White House announced Thursday.
Sgt. Maj. Thomas “Patrick” Payne, who is assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, was part of a joint task force that assisted Iraqi security forces Oct. 22, 2015, in raiding an ISIS prison near Hawija in northern Iraq.
Payne and his teammates liberated 70 hostages — many of whom were captured Iraqi security forces personnel — after a request by the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Soldiers had to quickly rescue the hostages amid heavy enemy gunfire and suicide-vest detonations during the contested nighttime operation, which left one U.S. Soldier and at least 20 insurgents dead.
“Time was of the essence,” Payne said in an interview. “There were freshly dug graves. If we didn’t action this raid, then the hostages were likely to be executed.”