ARLINGTON, Va. – Under a bright sun and a cloudless sky in the center courtyard of the Pentagon was the stage where the three young friends who stopped a gunman on a Paris-bound train Aug. 21 stood for their awards ceremony.
Airman 1st class Spencer Stone received the Airman’s Medal and the Purple Heart. Specialist Alek Skarlatos received the Soldier’s Medal, and Anthony Sadler received the Defense Department Medal for Valor, the highest award the Defense Department gives to civilians.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Paul Selva accompanied the trio who were being honored on stage, and both gave remarks citing the heroic actions of the three men.
“We are here to honor their bravery and their willingness to act,” Selva said.
Carter said what they did on the train was “right out of a movie.”
“After they knocked out the gunman, they tended to others injured on board before paramedics and police arrived,” Carter said. “They have been widely celebrated on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Carter focused on the moment when the gunshot went off, and the three men looked at each other and said, “Let’s go.”
“The words ‘let’s go’ are as American as these three friends are,” Carter said. “Time and again, challenge after challenge, the sound of gunshots and danger, the world has turned to the United States and its military for help. And generation after generation, we’ve answered.”
The three men met with President Barack Obama earlier in the Oval Office at the White House. Obama said they “represent the very best of America.”
“Because of their courage, because of their quick thinking, because of their teamwork, it’s fair to say that a lot of people were saved and a real calamity was averted,” Obama said.
Both Obama and Carter concluded their statements with optimism for the future.
“It’s these kinds of young people who make me extraordinarily optimistic and hopeful about our future,” Obama said.
Reach reporter Heather Khalifa at [email protected] or 202-408-1488. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Download photos: Pentagon-heroes.zip