3 Who Stopped Attack Were Boyhood Friends

The three American men are scheduled to have dinner with the French president, François Hollande, on Monday, Ms. Sadler said.

They were boys when they met and men when they became heroes together.

The three Americans who subdued a gunman aboard a train to Paris are friends from their middle-school days, and two of them serve in the armed forces.

This month, they embarked on a tour of Europe with stops in Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Spain. But their trip was interrupted on Friday when a gunman boarded the high-speed train headed from Amsterdam to Paris, prepared to wreak havoc.

The two service members, Specialist Alek Skarlatos, 22, and Airman First Class Spencer Stone, 23, are both originally from Carmichael, Calif., according to the newspaper The Oregonian. Mr. Stone serves in the United States Air Force and Mr. Skarlatos in the Oregon Army National Guard.

They were joined by a third friend, Anthony Sadler, 23, a college student in Sacramento.

The trio had visited Rome, Venice, Munich, Berlin and Amsterdam and were headed to Paris and Barcelona, according to Mr. Sadler’s Facebook page.

As the train headed to Paris, they heard what sounded like gunfire, according to Mr. Sadler’s sister, Arissa.

After seeing the gunman struggling with another passenger, the three friends rushed to subdue the gunman, who was carrying an AK-47 rifle, a handgun, ammunition and a sharp blade, according to the authorities.

Mr. Stone was the first to jump up and charge the gunman, followed closely by Mr. Skarlatos and Mr. Sadler, according to Ms. Sadler.

The three tackled the gunman and, with the help of a British businessman living in France, tied him up, she said.

Mr. Stone was among the injured. His thumb was severely cut, the businessman, Chris Norman, said in a news conference on Saturday.

Josh Knight, 25, a survival instructor for the Air Force, remembered Mr. Stone from basic training in San Antonio in 2012.

“He’s a good dude, solid dude,” Mr. Knight said, adding that being called “solid” is one of the highest compliments for an airman.

Ms. Sadler was not surprised that her brother joined the struggle.

“He’s definitely one to step up and protect the people he loves,” she said.

Mr. Sadler is supposed to return to the United States on Aug. 30 to begin his senior year at California State University, Sacramento, where he is studying kinesiology with an emphasis in conditioning and coaching.

He is also a member of Kappa Sigma, a social fraternity, and the Philosophy Club, Robert S. Nelson, the university president, said in a statement.

Ms. Sadler, 25, said her brother wanted to become a doctor and work for the National Basketball Association, preferably for his favorite team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

She said he spent most of his time in classes and studying, and he also works for a designer outlet store. He is popular and well liked, with a low-key personality, she said.

Once a year, he throws himself a birthday party that draws more than 200 guests, she said. “He throws parties like he’s famous,” she said. “It’s amazing how he can do it.”

The three American men are scheduled to have dinner with the French president, François Hollande, on Monday, Ms. Sadler said.

Mr. Skarlatos lives in Oregon, where he graduated from Roseburg High School and has been a member of the Oregon Army National Guard for three years, according to The Oregonian.

He had returned home in July after a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan, and then left for Europe on Aug. 11, his family told the newspaper.

In Amsterdam, he met up with Mr. Stone, who is stationed in the Azores Islands near Portugal, and Mr. Sadler. They had planned to stay another day in Amsterdam, but decided instead to take a Friday train to Paris, his father, Emanuel, told The Oregonian.

Mr. Skarlatos had planned to visit Greece and Germany before returning to Oregon on Sept. 9, his father said.

Karen Skarlatos, Alek’s stepmother, said the family was “very proud.”

“I’ve always said that I felt I could trust putting my life in Alek’s hands,” Ms. Skarlatos said, according to The Oregonian. “I honestly can’t say I’m surprised that he knew what to do when faced with that kind of situation. It’s just who he is.”

Leave a Reply