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Unquestionable Heroism

The word "hero" is sickeningly misused, often bandied about by politicians to describe anyone who happens to serve in the military, or dies in a fire, or otherwise gets killed either through misfortune or, sometimes, their own stupidity. Since it's used so often to pander to an audience, it has been diluted to near meaninglessness.

As I read the New York Times this morning, however, it's evident this trio of fellows can be adorned with the word "hero" without hesitation:

As the Times describes it, in part:

The man with the gun kept going down the carriage, holding his AK-47 and a Luger pistol. In a pocket was a sharp blade capable of inflicting grievous harm. He had at least nine cartridges of ammunition, enough for serious carnage.

Alek Skarlatos, a specialist in the National Guard from Oregon vacationing in Europe with a friend in the Air Force, Airman First Class Spencer Stone and another American, Anthony Sadler, looked up and saw the gunman. Mr. Skarlatos, who was returning from a deployment in Afghanistan, looked over at the powerfully built Mr. Stone, a martial arts enthusiast. “Let’s go, go!” he shouted.

Mr. Stone went after the heavily armed gunman and, with his friends, pounded him to the floor of the train carriage. “I mean, adrenaline mostly just takes over,” Mr. Skarlatos said in a Skype interview on Saturday that appeared on television, barely 12 hours after it was over. “I didn’t realize, or fully comprehend, what was going on.”

Their actions saved many lives on the train, which was packed with over 500 passengers, according to French officials.

With Mr. Skarlatos close behind, Mr. Stone grabbed the gunman’s neck, stunning him. But the gunman fought back furiously, slashing with his blade, slicing Mr. Stone in the neck and hand and nearly severing his thumb. Mr. Stone did not let go.

The gunman “pulled out a cutter, started cutting Spencer,” Mr. Norman, the British consultant, told television interviewers. “He cut Spencer behind the neck. He nearly cut his thumb off.”

Mr. Skarlatos grabbed the gunman’s Luger pistol and threw it to the side. Incongruously, the gunman yelled at the men to return it, even as Mr. Stone was choking him. A train conductor rushed up and grabbed the gunman’s left arm, Mr. Norman recalled.

The AK-47 had fallen to the gunman’s feet. Mr. Skarlatos picked it up and “started muzzle-thumping him in the head with it,” he said.

It is truly heartwarming to read how these three Americans took swift action without regard to their own safety and demonstrated true strength and courage. There are still guys out there like this, it's good to know. I'm sure if Caitlyn Jenner had been there instead, she would have tried something, but it's tough what with the ball gown's hemline and all.