PARIS, FRANCE – Three American boyhood friends and a Brit received France’s highest award, the Legion of Honor, presented by French president Francois Hollande at ceremonies in Paris.
"I did not want the three of you, the Americans to back to your country without receiving this honor,” said Hollande. “It's the Legion Honor ,which rewards your courage, but also the extraordinary act of humanity that you undertook that day.”
Americans Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone, and Anthony Sadler got on a train in Belgium on Friday, and soon found themselves, along with Chris Norman, in a fight for their lives and the lives of fellow passengers.
French police say Moroccan national Ayoub El Khazzani had been living on the streets of Brussels, and was on a terrorist watch list.
His lawyer claims he found the Kalashnikov rifle, the Lugar pistol, the nine magazines of ammo, and the box cutter in a park and decided to use the weapons to rob the passengers.
“Your heroism should be an example for all and a source of inspiration because faced, confronted with the evil which is here--which is called terrorism--there is one thing that is good. It is the humanity of us all in which you demonstrated that day,” Hollande said.
Stone arrived at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany to receive additional medical treatment because he is in the air force.
El Khazani cut him in the head and neck, and nearly cut off his thumb during the struggle that turned a summer vacation into a small victory in the war on terror.