Here’s the Blow-By-Blow of How Three Childhood Buddies Foiled a Terror Attack

Three American friends became unlikely heroes after stopping a shooting on a high-speed train to Paris. Here’s how they did it.

Video: Full press conference

In a Sunday press conference, the three American childhood friends who thwarted a terror attack on a high-speed train to Paris revealed more details about their heroic struggle with armed assailant Ayoub El-Khazzani. 

Jane Hartley, the US ambassador to France, introduced Airman Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, and civilian childhood pal Anthony Sadler, saying, “When most of us would run away,” the young men “ran into the line of fire.” 

ABC News reports Spencer Stone, the 23-year-old Californian who first charged El-Khazzani as the AK-47-wielding Moroccan national entered their train car, told the assembled media he saw El-Khazzani cocking the gun and felt “it was either do something or die.”

Anthony Sadler, also 23 and a student at Cal State, said he felt “In times of crisis” someone had to “do something.” 

“Hiding or sitting back is not going to accomplish anything,” Sadler told the press.

The men seemed to shake off being called heroes, reported the New York Times. The Times also noted that even as Spencer Stone received serious injuries while bracing El-Khazzani with a chokehold, he said he was simply motivated by survival instinct. Stone said El-Khazzani “seemed like he was ready to fight to the end, and so were we.”

According to the New York Times, the three men met as middle-schoolers in California and were traveling on a European tour that included France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

Even if the modest Americans want to maintain level heads as nations call them heroes, French president François Hollande has chosen to make it tough on them. Hollande announced Sunday that Stone, Skarlatos, Sadler and Briton Chris Norman, who helped the men restrain El-Khazzani, will receive his country’s highest honor, the medal of the Legion of Honor. Past US recipients include President Dwight D. Eisenhower and actor and director Clint Eastwood.

We’re pretty sure Clint Eastwood will be stoked to share the Legion of Honor with guys like these.

Photos by Laurent Viteur/Getty Images News