On September 11, 2020, President Donald J. Trump formally awarded the Medal of Honor to Sergeant Major Thomas “Pat” Payne, United States Army. This is the nations’s highest award for gallantry. The White House released a statement saying, “Sergeant Payne’s extraordinary heroism and selfless actions were key to liberating 75 hostages during a contested rescue mission that resulted in 20 enemy fighters killed in action.”
The ceremony was held on the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, which played a predominant role in Payne joining the Army.
To begin the ceremony, President Trump made several remarks about Payne’s extensive military career. Trump went on to discuss Payne’s injury from an earlier deployment. Furthermore, joking that “Pat” benefited from the wound, because while in recovery Pat met his wife, Allison. Payne let out a subdued laugh, while the audience chuckled.
Turning to Payne’s son, the President said, “I want you to know that your dad is one of the bravest men anywhere in the world.” The President also expressed gratitude to Ashley Wheeler, the widow of Master Sergeant Joshua Wheeler who died on the same mission.
In conclusion, Trump gave his highest regards to Pat, and to the medal that was about to be bestowed. After the award citation was read aloud, the President placed the medal around the neck of Sergeant Major Payne. Allison Payne then joined her husband on the stage, to a round of applause.
The brief ceremony was concluded by a benediction from the Chaplin. There were 3 other Medal of Honor recipients in attendance.
The full ceremony can be viewed on the Army’s website by clicking here.
A True Warrior
Sergeant Major Payne joins Kyle Carpenter as the newest South Carolinian to receive the Medal of Honor. Similarly, Payne’s hometown is Lugoff, S.C. He joined the Army on July 25, 2002. Since then, the special forces soldier has deployed 17 times in support of various operations. He is a Ranger sniper, a special forces operator, and now an instructor.
Additionally, the Army states, “Payne graduated from Norwich University in 2017 with a Bachelor of Science degree in strategic studies and defense analysis.”
Sergeant Major Payne’s awards and decorations
The Medal of Honor; Bronze Star Medal with Bronze “V” device and three Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters; the Purple Heart; Defense Meritorious Service Medal with two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters; Meritorious Service Medal with one Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster. Additionally, the Joint Service Commendation Medal with Bronze “V” device; Army Commendation Medal with Bronze “V” device and one Silver Oak Leaf Cluster; Navy and Marine Corps Presidential Unit Citation; Joint Meritorious Unit Award; Valorous Unit Award; Meritorious Unit Commendation. As well as, many, many others.
We certainly wish Sergeant Major Payne a bright future, and a cold beer on us. He is among the highest examples, of American Grit.