France train attack: British pensioner Chris Norman and three Americans receive Legion of Honour

'The entire world admires your courage, your sangfroid'

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The Independent Online

The British pensioner who attacked an AK47-wielding gunman and helped prevent carnage on a train has been made a knight of France.

Chris Norman and three Americans - Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos - were presented with the Legion of Honour by President Hollande on Monday.

President Hollande said that although two Americans who first tackled the gunman were soldiers, "but on Friday you were simply passengers. You behaved as soldiers but also as responsible men".

The men showed "that faced with terror, we have the power to resist. You also gave a lesson in courage, in will, and thus in hope," he said.

Norman, speaking in French after receiving the medal, said it was less a question of heroism than survival.

British hero Chris Norman speaks at a press conference in France (AP)

Anthony Sadler, Aleck Sharlatos and Chris Norman

"I hope this doesn't happen to you, but I ask you to really think: OK, what will I do if this happens? Am I going to simply stand still or am I going to try to be active if the situation presents itself?" he said.

The Americans, casual in vacation-style polo shirts and khakis against the backdrop of the highly formal presidential palace, appeared slightly overwhelmed as they received France's highest honor.

His arm in a sling and his eye bruised, Stone, 23, has said he was coming out of a deep sleep when the gunman appeared.

The gunman is brought to the ground


Skarlatos, a 22-year-old National Guardsman recently back from Afghanistan, "just hit me on the shoulder and said Let's go."'

With those words, Hollande said, a "veritable carnage" was avoided.

"Since Friday, the entire world admires your courage, your sangfroid, your spirit of solidarity. This is what allowed you to with bare hands - your bare hands - subdue an armed man. This must be an example for all, and a source of inspiration," Hollande said.

The gunman, identified as 26-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani, is detained and being questioned by French counterterrorism police outside Paris.

Police have identified Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani as the suspected gunman

El-Khezzani's lawyer, Sophie David, told Le Monde newspaper the gunman is ill-educated, emaciated, and told her he had spent the past six months traveling between Belgium, Germany and Austria, as well as France and Andorra. She said he told her he only intended to rob the train with a cache of guns he came across in a public garden near the train station and is "dumbfounded" that it is being treated as an act of terrorism.