Today, the three Americans who helped subdue a gunman on a Paris-bound train last month were honored by President Obama in the Oval Office.
“Because of their courage, because of their quick thinking … a real calamity was averted,” Obama said, saying the trio “represent the very best of America.”
The three men — Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler, and Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone — are high-school friends who were traveling in Europe when the incident occurred.
The men, with the help of a British passenger, rushed to confront a man who was armed with an AK-47, a pistol and a knife. As the Two-Way reported, Skarlatos was quoted by Sky News as saying, “Spencer got to the guy first and grabbed the guy by the neck.
“I grabbed the handgun, got that away from the guy and threw it. Then I grabbed the AK-47 (Kalashnikov), which was at his feet, and started muzzle-bumping him in the head with it,” Skarlatos said. “Everybody just started beating the guy while Spencer held the chokehold until he went unconscious.”
The man suspected in the attack, a 26-year-old Moroccan man identified in French media as Ayoub El-Khazzani, was taken into custody and is thought to have connections with Islamist radicals.
Following the meeting with Obama, the three Americans were to be presented with medals at the Pentagon. Skarlatos was to receive the Soldiers Medal, one of the U.S. Army’s highest awards, and Stone was to be presented with a Purple Heart and the Airman’s Medal, the Air Force’s highest non-combat honor. Sadler was to receive the Department of Defense Medal for Valor.
The three Americans have been hailed as heroes around the world. Last month, French President Francois Hollande gave them France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor.