Three Americans and a British grandfather who prevented ‘carnage’ by tackling the French train terrorist have been awarded France’s highest honour for bravery.
U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, their friend Anthony Sadler and Briton Chris Norman were presented with the Legion d’Honneur at the Elysee Palace in Paris.
French President Francois Hollande, who pinned on their medals, praised the men for taking action in the face of terrorism.
The ceremony was held as the first heroic passenger who wrestled a machine gun from the terrorist was today revealed to be an American professor.
Mark Moogalian, an academic at the University of Paris, was shot in the neck as he fought with Ayoub El-Khazzani on board the high-speed service from Amsterdam to Paris.
The other four men then stepped in to overpower the attacker and tie him up.
Speaking at the medal ceremony, Mr Hollande told Mr Stone and Mr Skarlatos that while they may have been soldiers on that day ‘you were simply passengers. You behaved as soldiers but also as responsible men.’
The pair and their longtime friend Anthony Sadler, subdued the gunman as he moved through the train with an assault rifle strapped to his bare chest.
Mr Norman, an IT expert, jumped in to help tie him up.
The men showed ‘that faced with terror, we have the power to resist. You also gave a lesson in courage, in will, and thus in hope,’ Mr Hollande said.
Mr Norman, speaking in French after receiving the medal, said it was less a question of heroism than survival.
‘I hope this doesn’t happen to you, but I ask you to really think: OK, what will I do if this happens?
‘Am I going to simply stand still or am I going to try to be active if the situation presents itself?’ he said.
The Americans, casual in vacation-style polo shirts and khakis against the backdrop of the highly formal presidential palace, appeared slightly overwhelmed as they received France’s highest honour.
His arm in a sling and his eye bruised, Stone, 23, has said he was coming out of a deep sleep when the gunman appeared.
Skarlatos, a 22-year-old National Guardsman recently back from Afghanistan ‘just hit me on the shoulder and said ‘Let’s go.’
With those words, Hollande said, a ‘veritable carnage’ was avoided.
He added: ‘Since Friday, the entire world admires your courage, your sangfroid, your spirit of solidarity.
‘This is what allowed you to with bare hands – your bare hands – subdue an armed man. This must be an example for all, and a source of inspiration,’ Hollande said.
The gunman, identified as 26-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani, is detained and being questioned by French counterterrorism police outside Paris.
El-Khezzani’s lawyer, Sophie David, told Le Monde newspaper the gunman is ill-educated, emaciated, and told her he had spent the past six months traveling between Belgium, Germany and Austria, as well as France and Andorra.
Read more: dailymail.co.uk