By Debbie Gregory.
Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone will receive the Airman’s Medal and possibly the Purple Heart for helping stop a gunman on a European train.
Not only did Stone tackle the gunman, his quick thinking and action saved the life of a passenger who was shot in the neck and losing blood. Stone applied pressure on the wound and held that position until paramedics arrived.
Stone was traveling with friends Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler on a high-speed train from Amsterdam to Paris when they came face to face with a suspected Islamic extremist who was armed with an AK-47, Luger pistol and box cutter.
The three Americans leapt into action, along with British businessman Chris Norman, confronting the gunman who had strapped the assault rifle across his bare chest.
They subdued the gunman, saving countless lives.
Stone’s unit put him up for the Airman’s Medal, and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh said that he also may be eligible for the Purple Heart.
“We are looking at the potential, to see whether we can award the Purple Heart as well,” Welsh said, but it will first have to be determined whether the train incident was an act of terrorism.
The gunman, 26-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani, is an Islamic extremist who may have spent time in Syria.
Stone, Sadler, Skarlatos and Norman have already received the French Legion of Honor from French President Francois Hollande.
Hollande said, “Your heroism must be an example for many and a source of inspiration. Faced with the evil of terrorism, there is a good, that of humanity. You are the incarnation of that.”
“Alek just hit me on the shoulder and said, ‘Let’s go.’ And [I] ran down, tackled him. We hit the ground. Alek came up and grabbed the gun out of his hand while I put him in a choke hold.”
Just like that! Spoken so matter-of-factly. Like a true hero.