Paris Train Heroes

Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone

  • Stopped a terrorist from launching an attack on a train with more than 500 passengers on board
  • Authors of “The 15:17 to Paris,” now a major motion picture produced by Clint Eastwood
  • Share their incredible story plus insights on how their friendship led to taking a risk that changed their lives forever

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Childhood friends Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone were thrust into the international spotlight on August 21st, 2015, when their bravery and quick-thinking thwarted a would-be terror attack on a Paris-bound train with roughly 500 passengers on board. Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone were in Europe on vacation, heading from Brussels to Paris, when a man wielding an assault rifle, pistol, and box cutter burst through their train car after firing on a French passenger. Without hesitation, enlisted Airman Stone, who had been sleeping, threw off his headphones and leapt at the attacker, tackling him to the ground and dislodging the AK-47 from his arms. Sadler, a college student, and Skarlatos, a specialist in the Oregon National Guard, ran to help their friend, who had the man in a choke-hold. While the trio attempted to subdue the man with force, he turned his pistol and then a box cutter on Stone, leaving him with dozens of stitches on his neck and a nearly-severed thumb. After the terrorist was disarmed, the group provided life-saving care to the injured French passenger. For their heroic and selfless actions, Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone were presented with the highest French decoration, The Legion of Honour. They were praised by President Barack Obama, with a ceremony at the Pentagon for their heroic and selfless actions. Stone received the Purple Heart and the Airman’s Medal, Skarlatos received the Soldier’s Medal, and Sadler received the Secretary of Defense Medal for Valor. The awards were presented by former Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Together, the lifelong friends from Sacramento, California co-authored the book The 15:17 To Paris. The book caught the interest of legendary film maker Clint Eastwood and was made into a major motion picture of the same name. In a surprising move, Eastwood cast Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone as themselves in the movie, which was released in 2018. 

Their story of bravery and determination has been motivating and inspiring audiences globally since it unfolded just two years ago. Having gone from an unknown group of close friends backpacking through Europe to the focus of a media whirlwind within 24 hours, Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone discuss overcoming fearing, embracing the unexpected, the importance of fostering lifelong friendships, and what it takes to be prepared to do the right thing, at the right time.

Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone
Former Staff Sgt. Spencer J. Stone garnered international headlines on August 21st, 2015. While exposed to a direct line of fire, Stone charged, tackled and restrained a terrorist, receiving lacerations and injuries to his head, neck, and thumb. Despite those injuries, he then provided life-saving care to a man who received a gunshot wound to his throat during the attack. Stone applied pressure to the wounded man’s neck to stop the life-threatening bleeding. For his heroic and selfless actions, President Francois Hollande presented Stone with the nation’s highest decoration, The Legion of Honour. Upon his return to the United States, he was praised by President Barack Obama, The Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and many others.

About a month and a half following the terrorist attack, Stone, experienced another traumatic event. Just three days before he was supposed to return to duty in the Air Force, Stone received puncture wounds to his heart, lung, and liver during a stabbing in his hometown of Sacramento while defending a childhood female companion. He has since made a full recovery from his wounds, and is now an active public figure and speaker sharing his story of bravery globally. 

Alek Skarlatos
Alek Skarlatos was a specialist in the Oregon Army National Guard and was deployed to Afghanistan from 2014-2015. Shortly after coming home from the deployment, Alek met up with childhood friends Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler with whom he thwarted the Thalyes train attack on August 21, 2015. He was awarded the French Legion of Honour, the Belgium Civic Service Medal, the Army Soldier’s Medal from President Barack Obama, and Oregon's Distinguished Service Medal for wrestling away the terrorist's weapons and helping restrain him. Shortly after the attack, he was invited to compete on ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, where he placed third. He then completed the Army's basic leader course, air assault school, and sniper school, and speaks about the importance of preparedness and courage at events nationwide.

Anthony Sadler
Anthony Sadler is an alumni of Sacramento State University, where he graduated with a BS in Kinesiology. Along with two childhood friends he was involved in thwarting a terrorist attack aboard a train in August of 2015. He was awarded the Medal of Valor by Defense Secretary Ash Carter for his actions that day. Since then, he has traveled the world sharing his story and spreading a message of camaraderie and the ability to overcome in the face of insurmountable odds. He has since become an author, actor, and public speaker who is concentrated on sharing the unique of aspects of his journey with others every chance that he can.

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Speaker Video

Fostering the Relationships You’ll One Day Need Most. One aspect of Anthony Salder, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone’s story remains consistent before, during, and after the episode on the train: their close friendship. Here, the trio discusses why it’s so important to maintain relationships—highlighting that you never know when they’ll come in handy or when you will need to rely on others to get through. Admitting that they sprang into action mostly to back one another, Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone move audiences to evaluate the relationships in their own lives and reinvest time and energy where it matters most.

Finding Success on the Other Side of Fear. There are several things Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone were afraid of before August 21st, 2015—facing a terrorist head-on and public speaking, to name a few. Here, the trio takes audiences behind the headlines to share their first-hand accounts of what happened that day and how they found the courage within to stop an attack that could have claimed up to 500 lives. Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone then discuss how pushing past fear in all of its forms has changed their lives for the better, and why it’s so important to extend your comfort zone in order to achieve your full potential. An incredible look at what happens when you’re forced to overcome your own limitations, this talk motivates audiences to abandon their fears and move forward boldly in every aspect of their lives.

Embracing the Unexpected. Before they fought and subdued a would-be mass murderer on a train to Paris, Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone were a college student, a member in the Oregon National Guard, and an enlisted Airman. Acting in a Clint Eastwood-directed movie? Not on their radar. But as Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone share, embracing unexpected opportunities—and challenges that hopefully others never have to face—has been the key to success in their lives so far. With this talk, the trio opens up about what it was like to fight off a terrorist and how they made the decision to act. They then walk the audience through what came after, from the media frenzy to their hit book, and where they are now. Incredibly motivational, this talk is a first-hand account of what can happen when you say yes to the unexpected.

The Importance of Preparedness: Doing the Right Thing at the Right Time. Looking back on that fateful August day, Paris Train Heroes Anthony Sadler, Alek Skarlatos, and Spencer Stone had no way of knowing that they would find themselves face-to-face with a terrorist armed with an AK-47. And while the media was eager to make them out as war-tested military vets, the truth is that the young trio of childhood friends had never been on the front lines. With this talk, Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone tell the true story of the events that led up to the train attack, detailing the ways friendship, a strong belief system, faith, and determination led to their incredible course of action. This moving talk will inspire audiences to tackle feats with courage and understand the importance of being ready to spring into the correct course of action at a moment’s notice.

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