The October 2015 operation near Kirkuk killed Payne’s army ranger colleague Joshua Wheeler, whose widow attended the ceremony at the White House.
“It was one of the largest and most daring rescue missions in American history,” Trump said in honoring Payne, who deployed 17 times after the 9/11/11 wars.
Trump regained 11 of his audience with Payne’s heroism in freeing the Kurdish hostages. The Islamic State group intended to kill the detainees and bury them in freshly dug graves.
“After midnight of October 22, Pat boarded a helicopter and set off on a mission to free the hostages from two buildings guarded by dozens of ruthless and bloodless ISIS terrorists,” Trump said.
“As soon as the ramp for his helicopter went down, Pat opened fire. Pat and his team swiftly overcame the enemy, securing the building and freeing 38 of the hostages, when Pat received word that the rest of the attacking team was facing stiff resistance. ”
After the first group was freed, Payne and his men fought in a second building to free the 37 other detainees.
“He and his team climbed onto the roof and opened fire on the enemy. Many ISIS fighters committed suicide by tearing down a section of the building.
Payne cut two locks on the other building and freed the people from the burning of the building.
Payne “grabbed a pair of bolt cutters and ran through the smoldering flame and smoke. As the bullets rolled around him, Pat managed to cut a lock before the scorching heat and building it for some air. Forced to leave. Pat caught his breath in a few seconds and came back. He ran back in that flare bang and cut the final lock and released the rest of the hostages. ”
Trump said that Payne disobeyed orders to leave without freeing all detainees.
“After the building collapsed, he received orders to evacuate but refused to do so. He did not want to leave anyone behind. Pat ran back to the burning building that had collided two more times. He rescued many hostages and was the last person to leave, ”Trump said.
Twenty ISIS combatants were killed in the operation.
The medal was awarded when Trump announced that the US would reduce the number of US troops in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 by the end of September. The US still has few soldiers left from anti-ISIS operations in Syria.