Trump awards medal of honor to ranger for Iraq hostage rescue

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The White House announced Thursday that the president will recognize the Army Sgt. Major Thomas P. Payne received the “Outstanding Bravery” award on September 11.Payne had led a combined assault team in a “daring nighttime hostage rescue” in Kirkuk province, Iraq, the White House said in a statement.

“The extraordinary heroism and selfless actions of Sergeant Payne were key to the release of 75 hostages in a disputed rescue mission that resulted in the deaths of 20 enemy combatants in combat,” the statement said.

Mass graves dug inside the compound had been spotted during the surveillance, a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the details of the raid told CNN. After the rescue, the hostages said they were told they would be executed after morning prayers.

The Medal of Honor is the most prestigious decoration of the United States Army. Recipients must have demonstrated “compelling evidence of meritorious driving performance, and each recommendation for the award must be considered on the standard of extraordinary merit,” the White House statement said.

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