They were just three American men on a train until the unthinkable happened.
It’s said that rocking side to side is soothing and sleep-inducing. Though the Thalys train from Amsterdam to Paris is high-speed and state of the art, it’s possible that more of the passengers than three Americans were dozing on August 21 of last year.
One of the Americans woke to a disturbance and saw a man with one of the many variants of the Kalashnikov (AK-47) design trying to make… something … happen with it. The American woke his friend, Spencer Stone, who was closest to the aisle and said, “Spencer, go.” Stone charged the 10 meters to the front of the car and tackled the gunman. His two friends, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler followed. Stone got the gunman in a chokehold but, as one of the Americans said, the guy just kept coming up with weapons. First, a pistol which was taken from him, and then a box cutter with which he began slashing at Stone, nearly severing his thumb and cutting him severely on the back of the neck. With the help of British passenger Chris Norman and an unidentified French train employee, they were able to restrain the gunman and tie him up.
Stone, using his Air Force first aid training, went to help American ex-pat, Mark Magoolian who had tried to stop the gunman and was shot in the neck. One is taught to put pressure on the wound, but that didn’t work. So Stone put two fingers into the bullet hole. He found and pressed the artery, meanwhile talking to Magoolian to keep him focused. We’re going to have a beer when this is over, one bystander heard. Stone was ignoring his own injuries.
In the meantime, Skarlatos secured the rifle and walked back into the train looking for other gunmen, reassuring the passengers, and asking for a doctor.
The AK is famous for being impossible to jam. It’s said to function in circumstances which would make a crowbar nonfunctional. Stone, charging up the aisle, had every reason to think he was staring Death in the eye. Perhaps he had the unthinking instinct, “If I fall on the gun (sword, knife, pike) and take it down, the guys behind me can get in.”
When Skarlatos got hold of the weapon, he worked the operating handle. As would be the case an unfired round popped out of the weapon. He noted the primer was dented. That meant the gunman had pulled the trigger, the firing pin had slammed forward, but, for some reason, the primer did not fire and thus ignite the propellant. Had that happened, the bullet would have been fired out the muzzle of the weapon and the operating system would have instantly loaded another round into the chamber and set the firing pin to strike again.
There are two possibilities. One is that the spring powering the firing pin was too weak to make it work. The other is that the primer was defective, possibly lacking its tiny bit of explosive. Presumably, somebody test fired the weapon before giving it to the gunman, so the likelihood is that the pin and spring were functional. That leaves the one-in-a-million defective primer. The action in that case, is to do what Skarlatos did; work the operating handle. This extracts and ejects the defective round and, going forward, chambers the next round and cocks the firing pin. In other words, had the gunman been just a bit cooler, or had another two seconds, he could have had a fully functioning Kalashkinov.
The train made an unscheduled stop at the city of Arras where police and medical help were available.
The original reporting was that three US Marines had done the work. That turned out not to be the case. Of course, first reports are notoriously inaccurate, but there is the possibility raised by some who have served in Europe that the default view is only the legendary super warriors of the USMC can do such fantastic deeds.
Two were soldiers, in a manner of speaking. Stone was a junior enlisted Airman working in the medical and technical field at a hospital when he took leave to travel Europe with his friends. He studied martial arts on his own time. They had met Alek Skarlatos on his way home from Afghanistan. Skarlatos was an Infantryman in a National Guard unit, which meant he was a college student who, on his summer vacation, goes off and fights somebody. It’s probably more interesting than working at Hardee’s, and if he does his paperwork right it might pay as well, if not better. Anthony Sadler is a senior in kinesiology at Sacramento with no military experience. It would be wrong to denigrate their military experience and training. Still, it would be wrong to see them as long-serving troops with decades of combat experience.
So, yes, they were soldiers. But they were not hard-faced noncoms from the French Foreign Legion, nor U.S. paratroopers on their third enlistment, nor Delta or SEAL operators. Who these three ‘were’ is a combination of how they were raised and their military experience and training. Unlike long-term combat soldiers, the proportion of who they were that stemmed from their military exposure is considerably lower. The fact is that it wasn’t soldiers who did this, but regular American young men. Instant decision and violent execution.
A BBC reporter mused that, at the awards ceremony where they received the Legion d’Honneur from French President Hollande, they came across as the archetype of American masculine virtue; handsome, strong, modest. Deep in the French gene, he said, there is a connection going back 70 years to other Americans.
The French actor, Jean Huges Anglade, was a passenger on the train. In an interview, he repeatedly mentioned his gratitude and his debt to the Americans. At the end, he said it’s a shame not to be born American, the way you think; the way you act.
So now we have a problem. The problem is with the Progressive narrative. First, these guys were soldiers. In the Progressive narrative, they should be soulless killers or helpless victims, in either case working for colonialist oppression. They seemed like regular guys in their interviews. Skarlatos had the personality to do reasonably well on Dancing with The Stars.
Sadler is black. An interracial trio of friends about which no one said anything. An unremarkable interracial trio of friends in a time when Progressives are stridently and continually telling us America is an ongoing, and worsening racial catastrophe.
They met at a Christian middle school, which means not only Christian but likely conservative Christian. Indeed, Sadler’s father is a Baptist minister. This, in a time when conservative Christians are viewed by Progressives as figures of fun-deserving derision, or towering threats to all that Progressives claim is right and good.
They were, according to reports, rambunctious boys, running around shooting each other with pellet guns and playing war. This, in a time when Progressives insist that boys’ play should be gender neutral if not gender-bending, non-violent, eschewing especially war and toy weapons.
They did pretty well for themselves. The gunman was reported to have had 270 rounds for his rifle and some — number not known — for his pistol, and a bottle of some kind of petrol. How many of the train’s helpless passengers could have been killed, maimed, crippled, blinded or hideously mutilated had the gunman not been stopped? A lot. And the work was done by three ordinary American young men.
Would young men raised in the Progressive ideal have done as well? If God is merciful, we’ll never find out. But we know that the attitudes, the backgrounds, the personalities and even the skill-sets these three exhibited are not in good order with Progressives.
Was their action a matter of being in the Man Box? Should men be relieved of such pressure? If so, who will act for the rest of us?
Maybe it’s just me, but I suspect the above is why Progressives have resolutely looked the other way.
Perhaps it’s time to think about thinking about rethinking how we’re supposed to raise the New Man.