Like I figured yesterday, the foreign press might describe any U.S. serviceman as a "Marine." As it happens, the two young men who intervened so successfully in the train attack were Alek Skarlatos, an Oregon Army National Guard infantryman, and Spencer Stone, a U.S. Air Force airman, along with a third, Anthony Sadler, a student at Sacramento State University. All three are lifelong friends who were traveling through Europe on vacation.
This morning's NPR story is a good wrap-up and it corrects many mistaken details that media outlets were echoing yesterday, Americans Hailed As Heroes For Subduing Gunman On Train In Belgium:
[Interior Minister of France] Cazeneuve said that when a French passenger tried to enter a toilet on the train, he was encountered the gunman and tried, but failed to overpower him. The assailant's gun was then fired. A French-American passenger was hit by the bullet.
That's when, Sadler tells the AP, that the three heard a gunshot and breaking glass and then saw a train employee running down an aisle, followed by a man carrying an automatic rifle.
"As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells, 'Spencer, go!' And Spencer runs down the aisle," Sadler said. "Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious."
-- snip --
Skarlatos was quoted by Sky News as saying "Spencer got to the guy first and grabbed the guy by the neck."
"I grabbed the handgun, got that away from the guy and threw it. Then I grabbed the AK-47 (Kalashnikov), which was at his feet, and started muzzle-bumping him in the head with it," Skarlatos said. "Everybody just started beating the guy while Spencer held the chokehold until he went unconscious."
According to France24, when Skarlatos checked the AK-47, it had jammed and would not have been able to fire. The cartridge for the handgun had also been dropped, he said.
Both the rifle and pistol were inoperable? There are some interesting guns n' ammo details about that in a report from Breitbart London:
He [Skarlatos] then took the AK47 and started clearing the other carriages, believing there could be a second gunman. Upon inspecting the weapons he found it was the shooters own incompetence, as well as their quick thinking that prevented more from being injured – or even killed. He said:
“I noticed when I removed the round in the chamber of the AK that the primer had been stuck [TSB note: obviously, that should have been "struck"]. That meant he had pulled the trigger on the AK but the primer was faulty, so the gun didn’t go off and he didn’t know how to fix it … when I cleared the handgun I noticed there was no magazine in it, so he either dropped it accidentally or didn’t load it properly so he was only able to get one shot off”.
I don't know where the attacker learned to use small arms, but wherever it was, they evidently didn't stress immediate action to reduce stoppages, U.S. Army-style.
There was a fourth passenger who also joined in the attack on the gunman, and he is a middle-aged British businessman. It pleases me to know that a geezer of my own generation opened a can of whoop-ass rather than cringe in his seat at that moment. The gentleman was interviewed this morning:
He said: "I was just sitting working on my computer. I saw a man with a Kalashnikov. I said to myself s***.
"I heard an American saying, 'go get him', then someone else saying, 'no you don't do that'. Then I realised the only way to survive was to go for him."
He added: "I'm not a hero I just did what I could.
"The heroes were Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler … The train staff thought they were just fighting. To begin with they didn't understand what was happening.
-- snip --
"All I want to do now is go home and spend time with my family… I didn't hear him asking for his weapon back. What I did hear was Alek saying stop struggling. We got him down on the floor and tied him up while Alek went to look for other terrorists."
All's well that end's well. No one was killed, and for that our French friends know who to thank.