Nautilus

Hard-Wired for Heroism

On August 21, 2015, Anthony Sadler, 23, a California college student, was riding a train from Amsterdam to Paris with his friends, Aleksander Skarlatos and Spencer Stone. Skarlatos was an Oregon National Guardsman on who had just wrapped up a tour in Afghanistan, and Stone, an American Airman 1st Class in the U.S. Air Force. All three were killing time in their seats—listening to music, dozing—when they were jarred alert by gunshots and shattering glass. They saw Ayoub El-Khazzani at the entrance of the train car, gripping an AK-47, pointed at the ceiling.

Skarlatos looked to his friends. “Go,” he said. They charged El-Khazzani and wrested the gun away from him. Stone put him in

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