WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has welcomed to the Oval Office the three young Americans who thwarted an attack on a Paris-bound passenger train last month.
The three subdued a man with ties to radical Islam who boarded the train with a Kalashnikov, a pistol and a box cutter.
Obama says the teamwork, courage and quick-thinking actions of the three averted “a real calamity.”
The president says the three friends represent “the very best of America.”
After the White House meeting Skarlatos and his friends, accompanied by his proud family, parents Emmanuel and Karen, older brother Peter and younger brother Solon, went to the Pentagon where Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter presented the heroes with medals.
Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler have been widely lauded for their actions to stop the attack. They’ve already made appearances on late-night talk shows, been in a parade and earned France’s highest honor from President Francois Hollande.
President spoke for about four minutes.
“I think all of you are familiar with the incredible story of three high school friends who were getting together, two of whom had served in uniform on behalf of the United States armed forces, thinking that they were just going to have a fun reunion in Paris and ended up engaging a potential catastrophic situation and pinning down someone who clearly was intent on doing doing a lot of harm to a lot of people, inflicting terror on the French people,” Obama said.
The press pool was escorted into the Oval Office shortly after noon, where the President sat with the three heroes who stopped a terrorist attack on a train in Paris.
“The president spoke for close to four minutes, talking up the ‘incredible story of three high school friends’ who ‘ended up engaging a potential catastrophic situation and pinning down someone who clearly was intent on doing doing a lot of harm to a lot of people, inflicting terror on the French people,'” the New York Daily News reported.
Obama declared, “it’s these kinds of young people who make me extraordinarily optimistic about the future. I thank each and every one of them and wish them well…whatever they do, they’re going to do it well.””
Obama referred to the men’s plans for the future.
“Aleksander, as soon as he’s finished on ‘Dancing with the Stars,’ plans to get into law enforcement. Whatever they may do, they’re going to do it well and we just wanted to say thank you to them not only for saving so many lives but also for making America look so good,” Obama said.
SKARLATOS’ FATHER IS OVERJOYED
Alek’s father, Emmanuel Skarlatos, send a text message to The National Herald as soon as the meeting was over and expressed his joy that the President of the United States honored his son and the other heroes.
“The was the greatest day in my son’s life, for me and for all our relatives and friends…it’s an historic day for our family. My vocabulary is too poor to describe our feelings, our joy over coming to the White House and to receive the warm embrace of the president.”