Bravery — at its finest!
In today’s world, where you are sometimes left shaking your head as you observe people’s indifferences towards each other — it is the dramatic story of two U.S. servicemen, traveling with an American student, that fills your heart with hope, inspiration, admiration and gratitude.
As we speak, there are an undisclosed amount of people that were on board the express Thalys train yesterday as it sped through the Belgium countryside between Amsterdam and Paris that owe these men their lives.
Also aboard that train was an alleged 26-year-old Moroccan with Islamic ties, armed with a Kalishnikev assault rifle, nine magazines, a Luger semi-automatic pistol, and a box cutter who, according to his own admission, had the intent to rob the passengers. Quite the arsenal for a train robbery.
It began when an unnamed French national walked toward the men’s toilet and came face-to-face with the Moroccan who had the assault rifle slung over his shoulder. The Frenchman reacted quickly, trying to take the gunman down and, in the struggle, a shot was fired.
The two U.S. servicemen — young Spencer Stone, a member of the U.S. Air Force — and Alex Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon National Guard — quickly ducked down upon hearing the shot. Then, adrenalin and military training immediately kicked in. Alex, just returning from Afghanistan, looked towards his friend Spencer and simply said, “Let’s go.” Spencer jumped to his feet first, and ran 30 feet directly towards the still-armed gunman, before tackling him. In the struggle that followed, the gunman used the box cutter to cut Spencer’s neck and thumb severely while trying to thwart the attack.
Alex, several seconds behind Spencer, joined the fray and pulled a Luger from the gunman’s hand, throwing it aside. The assault rifle now was on the floor at the feet of the gunman. Alex lunged for it, retrieved it, and began to “muzzle-thump” the gunman about the head while Spencer’s strong arm squeezed the gunman’s neck until he lost consciousness. With the help of other passengers and their American student friend, they tied the gunman’s hands and feet to further restrain him.
The shot that was fired had hit another passenger and, with the gunman now subdued, Spencer went to aid the passenger — in spite of the fact that he was bleeding badly from his own wounds. Some say he saved that passenger’s life.
In an odd twist, Alex found that the gunman had either failed to load the Luger, or lost its magazine. As to the assault rifle, only one shot was fired because the primer on the second round was defective, which caused it to misfire. An extraordinary stroke of luck.
The train pulled into the City of Arras where the young men were awarded an honor by that city.
Since that time, President Obama and the U.S. European Command Commander, General Philip M. Breedlove, have sung high praises for these brave young men, as well they should.
Interestingly, the motto of the U.S. Air Force is “Aim high … Fly/Fight/Win.”
And the motto of the Oregon National Guard is “When we are needed, we are there.”
Mission accomplished, gentlemen …..