France train attack “hero” is based at Azores’ military airforce base

When Spencer Stone left Azores’ military airforce base for his summer holiday recently, he had no idea he would be returning with the French Légion d’honneur – the highest decoration in France – for the extraordinary part that he played “avoiding a massacre” on the high-speed train between Paris and Amsterdam last Friday.

Stone, 23, not only disarmed and immobilised Moroccan Ayoub El Kahzzani as he emerged from a toilet brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle, he then set about saving the life of the man whose intervention had been key.

French-American professor Mark Magoolian was the first person to realise El Kahzzani was armed and dangerous. He tackled him and was almost immediately shot in the neck.

Magoolian’s wife told French newsmen that she thought her husband was going to die – “there was so much blood”.

But Stone, already injured from tackling the Moroccan, “put his finger on the wound in the middle of his neck and stayed in that position for the whole journey until we got to Arras. I think he really saved my husband’s life. I didn’t have time to think. I thought at first that we were all going to die”, she explained.

Stone was treated in hospital to emerge a French and American national hero, praised not only by the heads of state of both countries, but by British PM David Cameron as well.

As security services now build up a picture of El Kahzzani and what led him to mount his abortive attack, Stone will be recovering, if not continuing with his holiday, before returning to the Base at Lajes, on Terceira Island, to continue his assignment with the 65th Air Base Group.

Group commander Col. Richard Sheffe has told the UK’s Telegraph that Stone’s actions were those of “a dedicated airman who answered the call and did what was needed to be done, and made a difference”.

The young man’s mother – simply overjoyed that her son is still alive – said she and her family were just “so thankful that it turned out the way it did. Spencer has some injuries, but it could have been so much worse”.

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