Memo to Jihadist murderers. If you must try to slaughter innocent civilians, always check first to make sure there are no heroes around. Otherwise, this will happen:
It was 5:45 p.m., a normal Friday afternoon on the sleek high-speed train that takes high-level European diplomats, businesspeople, tourists and ordinary citizens between Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.
Less than an hour away from Paris, a French passenger got up from his seat to use the toilets at the back of the carriage. Suddenly, in front of him rose a slightly built man. Across the man’s chest, in a sling, was an automatic rifle of the kind favored by jihadists the world over: an AK-47.
The passenger threw himself on the man. The gun went off, once, twice, several times. Glass shattered. A bullet hit a passenger.
The man with the gun kept going down the carriage, holding his AK-47 and a Luger pistol. In a pocket was a sharp blade capable of inflicting grievous harm. He had at least nine cartridges of ammunition, enough for serious carnage.
Alek Skarlatos, a specialist in the National Guard from Oregon vacationing in Europe with a friend in the Air Force, Airman First Class Spencer Stone and another American, Anthony Sadler, looked up and saw the gunman. Mr. Skarlatos, who was returning from a deployment in Afghanistan, looked over at the powerfully built Mr. Stone, a martial arts enthusiast. “Let’s go, go!” he shouted.
Mr. Stone went after the heavily armed gunman and, with his friends, pounded him to the floor of the train carriage. “I mean, adrenaline mostly just takes over,” Mr. Skarlatos said in a Skype interview on Saturday that appeared on television, barely 12 hours after it was over. “I didn’t realize, or fully comprehend, what was going on.”
Their actions saved many lives on the train, which was packed with over 500 passengers, according to French officials. The attack took place in Oignies, near the historic town of Arras.
The would-be mass murderer’s name has yet to be confirmed, but preliminary indications are that he is … wait for it … a member of a radical Islamist movement.
By Saturday evening, having left the hospital in Lille where he was operated on after being severely cut by the suspect, Mr. Stone and his friends were being hailed as heroes by French officials and citizens. Some were proposing them for the Legion of Honor. President François Hollande of France had already invited them to Élysée Palace for a congratulatory meeting. The French passenger who initially encountered the attacker was also lauded by French officials for his bravery, but was not named.
All four should get the Legion of Honor as well as any commendations President Obama sees fit to give them. As far as anyone knew, this guy could have had explosives on him. This was jumping on a grenade. This was putting their lives at risk to save others. And that can’t be commended enough.
It gets better. Stone continued to hold the guy down while he was bleeding from his neck and nearly served thumb. Once he’d been secured, Stone, still bleeding, went to the aid of wounded passenger and possibly saved his life. Skarlatos had the presence of mind to gather the weapons and search the car for other potential gunmen. They later discovered that the guns wouldn’t have worked because the Jihadist was incompetent. But there was no way of knowing that at the time. Here’s a picture of three heroes:
I once joked with a marine that the only reason we arm our soldiers is to give the enemy a sporting chance. Three unarmed Americans, two of them soldiers, against one idiot Jihadist who couldn’t figure out how to properly work his weapons? No chance.