The Army is awarding the Soldier’s Medal to Oregon National Guardsman Spc. Alek Skarlatos, one of the three Americans who subdued a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound train.
Skarlatos is being awarded the medal, which is the highest award for acts of heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy, “for extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty,” the Army said.
The medal’s citation reads, in part, that “Specialist Skarlatos distinguished himself in a courageous manner, voluntarily accepting risk to his own life” and that his “brave actions prevented a potentially catastrophic loss of life.”
Skarlatos, 22, was on vacation in Europe with friends Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, 23, and student Anthony Sadler, 23, when they encountered the gunman traveling from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday.
According to the Army’s official narrative, the gunman emerged from a train lavatory carrying an AK-47 and a Luger pistol. After hearing the sound of gunfire, Skarlatos called to others on the train to act, then charged the gunman.
After Stone put the gunman into a chokehold, Skarlatos then “forcefully wrestled the two firearms from the gunman’s possession.”
“As the gunman fought relentlessly wielding a box cutting razor, SPC Skarlatos seized the assailant’s own rifle to employ as a blunt weapon,” knocking the gunman unconscious then securing him “with makeshift restraints,” the Army said.
“Spec. Skarlatos’ actions that day epitomize what we mean by a soldier of character — one who lives by a personal code where dedication to duty and taking care of others is sacred,” said Army Secretary John McHugh.
“His actions, and those of his fellow serviceman and passengers, exemplify the highest standards of selfless service. We are proud to count him in our ranks,” he added.
The three childhood friends, along with British businessman Chris Norman, 62, have already been awarded the Legion of Honor, France’s highest recognition.
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SOURCE: The Hill, Kristina Wong