(Birdie Thompson/Admedia/Newscom)

Army National Guard Specialist names Parade’s service member of the month

Meet Parade‘s First Veteran of the Month, Alek Skarlatos 

By Stephanie Inman, Parade.com

In our continuing effort to honor our brave men and women in uniform, Parade introduces a new series celebrating the 22 million-plus veterans who have served in the military during times of war and peace. First in line, an Army National Guard infantry soldier who became a terrorist-thwarting hero.

Alek Skarlatos
Specialist, Oregon Army National Guard, 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment

Specialist Skarlatos, 24, who served in Afghanistan for nine months beginning in 2014, was not on duty on Aug. 21, 2015, when he boarded a Paris-bound train from Amsterdam during a European vacation. But that didn’t stop Skarlatos from leaping beyond duty’s call when he and two friends, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, brought down a gunman, Ayoub El-Khazzani, whom they spotted coming toward them armed with enough ammunition to kill half of the 554 passengers aboard.

“I yelled, ‘Get him!’” says Skarlatos, who disarmed the terrorist after Stone restrained El-Khazzani, receiving significant injuries to his neck and hand. “I didn’t know I had that in me.”

Keep in touch. Subscribe to Ameriforce’s FREE digital editions.  Focus topics include: Military News    Spouses   Deployment   Finance   Relocation   Veterans   Health & BenefitsFollow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest

Following the thwarted attack, Skarlatos and friends were awarded France’s Legion of Honor as well as medals at a Pentagon ceremony after meeting with President Barack Obama. The city of Sacramento, California, near where the three men grew up, hosted a parade in their honor. For his part, Skarlatos plays down all the shout-outs calling him a hero.

“Anybody could’ve done what we did,” he says.

Skarlatos, who is still active in the National Guard and recently graduated from the U.S. Army Sniper Course, says his military experience is crucial to his character.

“The military has taught me a sense of responsibility and how to step up to the plate and do what needs to be done, even when I don’t feel like it,” he says. “When you go through that with like-minded people, you develop a strong sense of camaraderie.”

By Stephanie Inman, Parade.com

Keep in touch. Subscribe to Ameriforce’s FREE digital editions.  Focus topics include: Military News    Spouses   Deployment   Finance   Relocation   Veterans   Health & BenefitsFollow us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn and Pinterest