Hero Soldier Alek Skarlatos’ Father Speaks With TNH

ROSEBURG, OR – On August 21, Alex Skarlatos, a 22 year-
old National Guardsman
who had just completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan, a
long with fellow U.S. soldiers
Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, charged a man on a
French train who was carrying
an AK-47, a pistol and a box cutter and subdued him be
fore he could kill anyone.
The soldiers grabbed him by the neck and beat him over th
e head with his own
automatic rifle until he was unconscious, the New York Ti
mes reported. It was Skarlatos
who took the AK-47 away and hit the man with its muzzle.
Skarlatos’ father, Emanuel, spoke with The National He
rald a few hours after his son’s
heroic act – immediately dominated the news in the Unit
ed States, France, and
throughout the world.
“Our Alex made all of us proud,” the elder Skarlatos sa
id. “All the relatives, friends, and
his fellow citizens are proud of him. All of Roseburg
(the Oregon town in which the
Skarlatoses live), the state of Oregon, and the nation i
s proud. His unparalleled heroism
certainly saved many people from death.”
Skarlatos and his wife, Karen, from the moment they spok
e to their son directly to learn
what happened, have been constantly receiving phonecalls
from local and national
media. Alek contacted them around 1:30 local (Pacific) t
ime in Oregon, about five hours
after the incident. Before then, he was relaying the
details to the police and the press.
Alek said he expected to meet with French President Fran
cois Hollande, and speak via
telephone with President Obama. Having just completed
his Afghanistan tour, Alek
expected to go on vacation, including a trip to Greece.
Due to this unexpected event, his
itinerary has changed.
Alek will stay in the National Guard for two or three
years, Skarlatos told TNH about his
son. “But his dream is to become a police officer,” and
Skarlatos advises his children to
follow their dreams.
Born in Germany 65 years ago, Emanuel Skarlatos has two
other sons besides Alek:
Peter (24) and Solon (20). His wife, Karen, is a nurse
; he studied fine arts and
anthropology – both are now retired. The family lived
mostly in California but moved to
Roseburg six years ago.
Emanuel’s father (Alek’s grandfather), Socrates, was a sho
emaker from
Alexandroupolis. Fighting for the Greek army in WWII,
he was captured by the Nazis
and taken to a concentration camp in East Germany.

Because he was a craftsman, the Germans put Socrates to wor
k in a factory that made
boots for the Nazi troops. Smart and capable, Socrates w
as promoted to head of the
department that cut the hides from which to make the b
oots. That is where he met Else
– she also worked in the factory. They married and three
children: Nick, Emanuel, and
George. They came to the United States almost 60 years
ago and settled in California.
Like his father, Emanuel Skarlatos first became a fath
er at 40, and had three boys, all
two years apart. “Is it a coincidence,” Emanuel joked? S
ocrates died at age 63.
Raised in the United States and the son of a German wo
man, Emanuel nonetheless
learned Greek, influenced by Socrates, who wanted his chil
dren to retain their Greek
heritage. Emanuel visited his father’s birthplace many
times. He was in Greece in 2004
for the Olympics, and was there most recently in 2007. “I
wish that God grants us the
opportunity to go back to Greece again – the birthplace
of the Olympics, democracy,
and culture.”


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