Pentagon to give medals to three US train heroes

Washington: The three Americans who helped stop a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound train in August will receive medals for bravery from the US military, officials said today.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and other top brass will present the awards at a special Pentagon ceremony on Thursday at 2:00 pm (1800 GMT.)

Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, 23, will receive the Airman’s Medal, which is given to Air Force members who distinguish themselves by heroic actions.

Similarly, Army National Guard Specialist Alek Skarlatos, 22, will receive the Soldier’s Medal; and Anthony Sadler, who is 23 and not in the military, will receive a civilian award called the Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor.

That medal was created shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks and is the highest non-military award given by the Department of Defense for people “who perform an act of heroism or sacrifice.”

Additionally, Stone will receive a Purple Heart medal, which is normally given to troops who are wounded in combat, the Air Force Times reported. Stone suffered hand and eye injuries in the August 21 incident.

The trio, who are from California and have been friends since school, have already been awarded France’s Legion of Honor, the country’s highest decoration, for their role in subduing the gunman on a packed train headed from Amsterdam to Paris.

Ayoub El Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan, is accused of launching an attack on the train armed with a pistol, an assault rifle and 270 rounds of ammunition.

He was overpowered by the three Americans, with the help of British and French passengers.