Specialist subdued gunman on Paris-bound train

WASHINGTON (Aug. 25, 2015) -- Spc. Aleksander R. Skarlatos, one of three American friends, who subdued a heavily armed gunman on a Paris bound train, will be awarded the Soldiers Medal - the U.S. Army's highest award for acts of heroism not involving actual conflict with an enemy - senior Army leaders announced today.

Skarlatos is a member of the Oregon National Guard who was traveling from Amsterdam to Paris when a gunman emerged from a train lavatory carrying an AK-47 and a Lugar pistol. After hearing the sound of gunfire, Skarlatos called to others on the train to act, then charged the gunman.

According to the U.S. Army's official narrative, he 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."

"Spc. 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 Secretary of the Army 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."

Skarlatos is being awarded the Soldiers Medal "for extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty." The medal's citation reads, in part, that "Spc. 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."

"On behalf of our Army, I commend Spc. Aleksander Skarlatos for his heroic actions Friday that saved hundreds of lives by awarding him the Soldier's Medal," said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley. "His extraordinarily heroic effort, at the risk to his own life, truly exemplifies our Army Values. I am proud to call you a hero and a soldier."

Skarlatos and two other Americans, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone were cited for thwarting the attack. Yesterday the three childhood friends received the Legion of Honor, France's highest recognition. Stone is an Airman 1st Class, who has been similarly nominated for the Airman's medal, the U.S. Air Force's highest non-combat award.

"These men are true heroes. The Oregon National Guard is very proud of Spc. Skarlatos. His quick reaction, his courage, and his bravery undoubtedly saved many lives, for which we are thankful beyond words. He is a true citizen soldier who displayed the courage each of us would hope to find in ourselves," said Brig. Gen. Michael E. Stencel, acting adjutant general, Oregon.

"Spc. Skarlatos is a model citizen soldier." said Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, director, Army National Guard. "His willingness to risk himself to save others represents the very best of the Army National Guard."

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Photo of Spc. Skarlatos