“He was ready to fight to the end. So were we,” Americans discuss train attack in France

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Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos were aboard a high-speed train en route to Paris from Amsterdam on Friday, August 21, 2015 when a gunman opened fire. Along with two others -- a French national and a Briton -- they charged, tackled and subdued him, officials said. Photo of Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone.

PARIS, France – A group of childhood friends were honored for their heroic actions on Monday, which likely saved lives.

Just three days after subduing a gunman aboard a train that was headed to Paris, Americans Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos received the Legion of Honor, France’s highest recognition.

The friends, who met in middle school in California, planned on sightseeing during the summer. It was Sadler’s first trip to Europe and National Guardsman Skarlatos was on a month-long break after serving in Afghanistan.

Stone is a trained medical technician in the U.S. Air Force.

They were in the same car as British passenger, Chris Norman, when they heard gunfire.

A short time later, a man walked into the car with a gun.

“He never said a word,” said Sadler. “At that time, it was either do something or die.”

Stone was the first one who reached the gunman and tackled him to the ground.

“He kept pulling more weapons left and right,” said Stone, his arm in a sling from injuries suffered in the struggle. “He seemed like he was ready to fight to the end. So were we.”

They punched the suspect, choked him and hit him with his own weapons. They finally restrained him before the train came to a stop.

“It is clear that their heroic actions may have prevented a far worse tragedy,” said President Barack Obama, who phoned the three Americans.

Norman says once the Americans jumped into action, he immediately followed.

“I am happy that no one got hurt,” he said. “Spence and Alek are the two guys who we should really thank the most because they were the first ones who actually got up and did it.”

Stone, who was suffering from injuries to his head, neck and hand, still managed to help a man who had his throat cut.

Mark Moogalian, a French-American, was shot in the neck.

“My husband looked at me and he said, ‘I’m hit, I’m hit.’ He thought it was over and that he was dying. There was blood everywhere,” said Isabelle Risacher, Moogalian’s wife.

Stone applied pressure to the man’s neck to help him avoid bleeding out.

“By their courage, they saved lives,” President François Hollande said. “They gave us an example of what is possible to do in these kinds of situations.”

French president Francois Hollande meets with the heroes who thwarted the French train attack on Friday, August 21, 2015. Image taken from a screengrab of a pool feed.

French president Francois Hollande meets with the heroes who thwarted the French train attack on Friday, August 21, 2015.

“Three Americans and one Englishman … you risked your lives to defend an ideal, the ideal of liberty and freedom,” Hollande said.

The alleged gunman has been identified as Ayoub El Khazzani.

He claims he only intended to rob people on the train, but authorities believe he was planning a massacre.

The suspect had an AK-47 assault weapon with nine magazines of ammunition, a Luger pistol with extra ammo and a box cutter, French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said.

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