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Right Hooks

Americans Headed for Paris Save the Day

Three men stop a terrorist attack on French train.

Nate Jackson · Aug. 24, 2015
Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler

When the French are in trouble, they can always count on the American military. Granted, this military victory was on a much smaller scale, but it was a good one nonetheless. Airman First Class Spencer Stone, Oregon National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos (recently returned from deployment in Afghanistan) and their friend Anthony Sadler subdued a would-be jihadi mass murderer on a French train Friday. On vacation and having just changed cars for a better WiFi signal, the three were in prime position to stop Ayoub El-Khazzani, a 26-year-old Moroccan national who was on French radar for supposed radical Islamist activity. El-Khazzani boarded the train with a pistol and an AK-47 with the obvious intent to kill as many people as possible. But before he could, Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler rushed him and wrestled him to the ground. “He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end. So were we,” Stone said later. British businessman Chris Norman said he was inspired by their bravery and joined to help, binding the jihadi’s hands with a tie. Stone nearly lost his thumb to El-Khazzani’s box cutter, but as a trained medical technician he first turned his attention to another wounded passenger. Skarlatos gave his account of the takedown: “I just looked over at Spencer and said, ‘Let’s go!’ Spencer got to the guy first, grabbed the guy by the neck, and I grabbed the handgun, got the handgun away from the guy and threw it. Then I grabbed the AK, which was at his feet, and started muzzle thumping him in the head with it.” And some guys do just need a few thumps in the head. It’s nice to see members of the American military there to do the job, even on a day off in France. The three Americans and their British compatriot were made French knights and awarded the Legion of Honor medal, France’s highest decoration.

Update: The Air Force will nominate Stone for the Airman’s Medal, the highest award for bravery outside of combat. He may also receive a Purple Heart for his injuries.

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