France awards its top honor to 3 Americans, Briton who stopped train attack

France awards Legion or Honor to 3 Americans, 1 Briton
(Image credit: Michel Euler/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday, French President Francois Holland bestowed France's highest award, the Legion of Honor, on three Americans and one British businessman who together tackled a well-armed gunman on a high-speed train on Friday. Before pinning the medal on U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, 23, and National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, 22, he noted that the two old friends who thwarted the gunman and likely prevented a massacre are soldiers, "but on Friday you were simply passengers."

The alleged attacker, Ayoub El-Khazzani, a 26-year-old Moroccan, was arrested after Stone and Skarlatos, plus their friend Anthony Sadler and British citizen Chris Norman, subdued him with his own assault rifle. "Since Friday, the entire world admires your courage, your sangfroid, your spirit of solidarity," Hollande told the four men. "This is what allowed you to with bare hands — your bare hands — to subdue an armed man. This must be an example for all, and a source of inspiration."

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.