KERSHAW COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - It was a hero’s welcome for Sergeant Major Thomas Patrick Payne at Lugoff-Elgin High School Friday morning.
“He would be the first to say that he was only doing his duty, only working for and with and by his comrades in a tight spot,” said Kershaw County Council Chairman Julian Burns. “But he did his duty and he brought them home, and now we’ve brought you home Sergeant Major. Welcome home.”
On September 11, Payne received the Medal of Honor from President Donald Trump for his actions in Iraq which led to the freeing of more than 70 hostages.
“It was one of the largest and most daring rescue missions in American history. Pat and his team rescued 75 captives and killed 20 ISIS terrorists,” said President Donald Trump at the ceremony.
Payne grew up in Batesburg-Leesville and Lugoff, so officials in Kershaw County held a ceremony to show Payne how proud they are of everything he has accomplished.
“Kershaw County has a storied and notable history of military service and sacrifice from the very founding days of our country,” added Burns.
Payne is the fourth medal of honor recipient from Kershaw County, carrying on a proud legacy for the community, but despite his acts of heroism and the honors he received, a humble Payne thanked the people who helped get him to where he is today.
“To the teachers, thanks for pushing me to a new limit that I didn’t know in the classroom,” said Sergeant Major Payne. “Like I said before, sometimes I struggled in the classroom, but you know, don’t give up on that young man or woman and I just wanna say thank you for everything.”
After the ceremony in the library, Payne spoke with members of the high school wrestling team, which he was a member of his freshman year.