Train Hero: 'It Was Do Something or Die'
Spencer Stone recounts waking up to see gunman 'ready to fight'
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2015 12:45 PM CDT
US Airman Spencer Stone attends a press conference held at the US Ambassador's residence in Paris, France, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015.   (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
camera-icon View 3 more images

(Newser) – "It was either do something or die," says US Airman Spencer Stone in his first public comments on stopping a gunman from rampaging through a French train. He describes waking from "a deep sleep" to see the gunman holding an AK-47, reports ABC News, his first thought going to "survival, to survive and for everyone on the train to make it." The gunman "seemed like he was ready to fight to the end," Stone said, per the AP. "So were we." Stone, along with longtime friends Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos, spoke about the attack today from the US Embassy in Paris; Stone was released from the hospital yesterday after surgery to reattach his thumb, which was severed with a boxcutter. "In the beginning it was mostly gut instinct, survival," added Skarlatos, a National Guardsman. "Our training kicked in after the struggle."

The threesome credit each other: "The gunman would have been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up," says Sadler, while Stone says simply, "I trust both my friends very much. If it wasn't for them I would be dead." US Ambassador Jane Hartley pointed to Americans' penchant for throwing around the word hero" but said, "in this case I know that word has never been more appropriate. They are truly heroes. When most of us would run away, Spencer, Alek, and Anthony ran into the line of fire, saying 'Let's go.' Those words changed the fate of many." The guys are getting some serious praise, and next meet with a grateful Francois Hollande.