When a gunman opened fire on a high speed European train on August 21st, Alek Skarlatos was ready.

The Oregon Army national guard member was one of three Americans who subdued the 26 year old Moroccan national Ayoub El Khazzani on a train from Amsterdam to Paris, according to CNN.

Skarlatos was spending a month in Europe with his friends Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone.

“We heard a gunshot, and we heard glass breaking behind us, and saw a train employee sprint past us down the aisle,” Sadler told the Associated Press, according to the Oregonian. The gunman was carrying an AK-47 with nine magazines of ammunition, a Luger pistol, and a box cutter.

“As he was cocking it to shoot it, Alek just yells, ‘Spencer, go!’ And Spencer runs down the aisle,” Sadler said. “Spencer makes first contact, he tackles the guy, Alek wrestles the gun away from him, and the gunman pulls out a box cutter and slices Spencer a few times. And the three of us beat him until he was unconscious.”

El Khazzani has been linked to radical muslim mosques in Spain, according to CNN.

Skarlatos, a Roseburg native, had been with the Oregon National Guard for three years and had just wrapped up a tour in Afghanistan in July.

“I’ve always said that I felt I could trust putting my life in Alex’s hands,” Skarlatos’ stepmother Karen said. “I honestly can’t say I’m surprised that he knew what to do when faced with that kind of situation. It’s just who he is.”

Emily Abbey is a Salem based student and writer. She loves cooking, coffee, and anything to do with the Pacific Northwest. She hopes to become a teacher, influencing students to write and make a difference in their corner of the world.