Europe

France train shooting: Legion d'honneur recipients

President Francois Hollande has personally awarded France's top honour to four passengers who foiled a suspected terror attack on a high-speed train.

He presented the Legion d'honneur medals to three Americans and a Briton on Monday. Awards to an injured French-American and an unnamed Frenchman will be made later.

Two employees of the SNCF rail company who were on the train will also be honoured later.

Here are brief profiles of the recipients, along with some of their testimony.

Spencer Stone

Image copyright AFP

Originally from the Sacramento suburb of Carmichael in California, the 23-year-old is a United States Air Force Airman First Class, stationed at Lajes Air Base in the Azores.

Part of his job there is with emergency medical personnel, including working in pediatrics and with expectant mothers. A practitioner of jujitsu, He is reported to want to be a paramedic when he leaves the force.

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Media captionThe three Americans who helped subdue the gunman speak about their experience

He was sleeping when the gun suspect emerged from a toilet cubicle and was challenged by a French passenger.

The commotion in the train carriage woke him and he says he responded out of an instinct for survival - both his own survival and that of his fellow passengers.

"I turned around and I saw he had what looked to be an AK-47 and it looked like it was jammed or wasn't working and he was trying to charge the weapon.

"Alek just hit me on the shoulder and said 'let's go' and we ran down, tackled him. We hit the ground."

He was first to reach the gunman.

He suffered a wound in the neck and on the eyebrow from a box-cutter, and his thumb was almost sliced off.

Despite the wound, he tended to the injured Mark Moogalian, which President Hollande said probably saved the professor's life.

Aleksander 'Alek' Skarlatos

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Lives in Roseburg, Oregon, but is a boyhood friend of Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler.

The 22-year-old is a Specialist in the National Guard, which he has served for three years.

He returned to Oregon in July after completing a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan. He left on 11 August for a month-long European holiday with his two friends.

Mr Skarlatos said his initial reaction was also "mostly just gut instinct".

"We just kind of acted. There wasn't much thinking going on."

He said military training had only played a role in providing medical help and making sure there were no accomplices.

He said the gunman had a lot of ammunition and "his intentions were pretty clear", but that he appeared untrained. "He clearly had no firearms training whatsoever."

"If he knew what he was doing, or even just got lucky... we would have all been in trouble and probably wouldn't be here today - along with a lot of other people."

Anthony Sadler

Image copyright Getty Images

A 23-year-old student at California State University in Sacramento.

He was on his first overseas trip and is scheduled to return to the university on 30 August for his senior year in kinesiology - the study of human movement.

Reportedly wants to become a doctor and work for the National Basketball Association.

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Media captionAnthony Sadler's father Tony says he is "still wrapping his head around" events

Was quick to praise the actions of his two friends, particularly Spencer Stone.

"The gunman would have been successful if my friend Spencer had not gotten up."

He added: "I want that lesson to be learned. In times of terror like that to please do something. Don't just stand by and watch."

Father Tony said: "He leaves here a young man on an excursion to broaden his world view and have fun with his buddies and comes back France's national hero."

Chris Norman

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Media captionChristopher Norman said he is "happy to be alive"

A 62-year-old Uganda-born British national. Married with two children and two grandchildren.

He is an IT specialist now based in Nimes, in southern France, and helps African entrepreneurs find European financing.

Helped to subdue and tie up the gunman after the Americans had charged him.

Mr Norman said: "My thought was, OK, I'm probably going to die anyway, so let's go. I'd rather die being active, trying to get him down, rather than simply sit in the corner and be shot."

Was modest after accepting his award from President Hollande.

"I'm just amazed, and I really appreciate the honour I've been given, this recognition of what we did. But I really don't know whether I deserve it.

"If you had told me before that I would one day be awarded the Legion d'honneur, I wouldn't have believed it.

"I did what I could, what I had to do, but it's the others you should be thanking, especially Spence and Alek."

Mark Moogalian

Mr Moogalian is a 51-year-old American-born French national who is a professor at the Sorbonne.

His website reveals him to be an author, artist and musician in a group called Secret Season.

He was travelling on the train with his wife, Isabella Risacher.

She told BFM TV her husband had seen a passenger tackling the gunman as he emerged from the toilet and went to help.

She said: "He told me, 'Go, this is serious.' I just moved a few seats away and my husband rushed at the man to take his Kalashnikov. Then he collapsed and I saw him through the gaps between the seats. He looked at me and said, 'I'm hit, I'm hit.' He thought he was going to die."

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Media captionFootage showed the gunman in the train carriage after he was subdued

Ms Risacher applied a tourniquet with a scarf and ran to the next carriage for help but found none. She returned to see the Americans subduing the gunman, after which Spencer Stone applied pressure to the artery in her husband's neck.

"He stayed in that position for the whole journey until we got to Arras, so I think he really saved my husband's life."

Mr Moogalian remains in hospital being treated.

Unidentified French passenger

Reported to be a 28-year old banker, he does not want to be named.

Was trying to enter the cubicle when he was the first to encounter the suspect.

Tried to wrestle away the Kalashnikov but reportedly lost balance and the gunmen freed himself, firing shots, one of which hit Mr Moogalian.

SNCF employees

Train manager on board, Michel Bruet, who sounded the alarm.

Eric Tanty, an off-duty conductor, who also helped overpower the suspect.

Medals are only awarded to French recipients after background checks are made.

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