Heroes who thwarted France train attack to get California parade

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 24, 2015 7:05 PM

By Sharon Bernstein

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (Reuters) - Three young men who disarmed a gunman on a high-speed train bound for Paris will get a heroes' welcome in their hometown in California, the mayor of Sacramento said on Monday.

"Big news!" Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson tweeted. "We are throwing a parade for our 3 hometown heroes!" He used the hashtag "#SacramentoProud."

The state capital will strike up the bands for student Anthony Sadler, 22, Spencer Stone, a 23-year-old U.S. airman, and National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, 22. The men grew up in the Sacramento area, attended middle and high school together and have remained friends.

They were touring Europe, partly to celebrate Skarlatos' return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, when they saw the gunman, who was armed with a box cutter, a pistol and a Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle.

When they saw him cocking the rifle, they said they had no choice but to react.

Sacramento, parts of which are still suffering from the financial crisis, has been buzzing with pride for the Americans ever since.

"I hope it's a parade to end all parades, Mr. Mayor," Bill Bird, a spokesman for the senate's top Republican, Bob Huff, tweeted in response to Johnson, a Democrat.

"Finally," tweeted another conservative, who used the name LVN Nancy. "Something to be proud of in California."

Johnson's chief of staff, Daniel Conway, said the parade was being organized and details would soon be announced.

At Sacramento State University, where Sadler is a senior, president Robert S. Nelsen said he looked forward to thanking the kinesiology major in person when he returns to class.

French President Francois Hollande bestowed France's highest honor on Monday on the three Americans along with a Briton who helped disarm the suspected Islamist militant.

Stone, whose thumb was almost severed by the attacker, has also been credited with saving the life of another passenger who had been shot and was bleeding profusely.

Air Force Secretary Deborah James said Stone's unit was nominating him for the Air Force's highest medal for non-combat bravery.

California Governor Jerry Brown tweeted on Saturday, "Proud of the brave Californians who helped prevent yesterday's attack in France & saved countless lives."

(Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Additional reporting by Bill Trott; Editing by Toni Reinhold)