U.S. men who thwarted France train attack to be honored in California parade

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 04, 2015 1:29 AM

By Victoria Cavaliere

(Reuters) - Three young men who disarmed a suspected Islamist militant on a high-speed train in France will be honored with a parade in their hometown in California next week, officials said, as the last of the trio returned to the United States on Thursday.

The three friends, Anthony Sadler, 22, Spencer Stone, a 23-year-old U.S. airman, and Alek Skarlatos, 22, a National Guardsman, charged the gunman on a train headed to Paris from Amsterdam on Aug. 21, helping to wrestle away a pistol and an AK-47 assault rifle.

The efforts of the three Americans, along with Briton Chris Norman, earned them France's highest honor, the Legion d'honneur.

Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced on Thursday that a parade honoring the men, who grew up in the Sacramento area and attended middle and high school together, was set for Friday, Sept. 11.

"Our community has been anxiously awaiting the return of our three hometown heroes – Anthony, Alek and Spencer – so that we can celebrate and honor their incredible courage," he said in a statement.

The parade will also honor the victims and first responders who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and Washington, the mayor's office said.

Stone, whose thumb was almost severed by the attacker in France, was the last of the three friends to return to the United States, arriving on Thursday after receiving medical treatment at a U.S. Army hospital in Germany.

Stone has also been credited with saving the life of another train passenger who had been shot and was bleeding profusely.

Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone were touring Europe, partly to celebrate Skarlatos' return from duty in Afghanistan, when they noticed accused gunman Ayoub el Kazzani.

They have said they had no choice but to intervene when the gunman cocked the rifle.

U.S. President Barack Obama has hailed their bravery.

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

Skarlatos will receive the Soldiers Medal, the U.S. Army's highest non-combat medal, Army officials said last week.

Sadler, a senior kinesiology major at Sacramento State University, was to be thanked for his actions by school president Robert S. Nelsen.

(Reporting by Victoria Cavaliere in Los Angeles; Editing by Paul Tait)