WASHINGTON, Sept 17 (Reuters) - U.S. President Barack Obama commended three Americans credited with foiling an attack on a Paris-bound train in August, praising their courage and quick thinking.
"They represent the very best of American character," Obama told reporters in the Oval Office after he met with U.S. Air Force Airman Spencer Stone, 23, U.S. Army Specialist Alek Skarlatos, 22, and civilian Anthony Sadler, 23.
"We just want to say thank you to them for not only saving so many lives, but also for making America look so good," Obama said, noting that their actions had averted a "real calamity."
Secretary of Defense Ash Carter was expected to honor the men at a Pentagon ceremony later on Thursday.
The men, who are childhood friends, were vacationing in Europe. They encountered a gunman who was armed with a box cutter, pistol, and assault rifle, aboard an Amsterdam-to-Paris train and disarmed him. Stone, whose thumb was almost severed by the attacker, has been credited with saving the life of another passenger who had been shot.
Authorities have identified the gunman as suspected Islamist militant Ayoub el Khazzani, 26, of Morocco.
France presented the three Americans with the Legion d'honneur, along with Briton Chris Norman, who helped subdue the gunman.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Air Force said Stone would be awarded the Purple Heart, a medal generally presented to military personnel wounded in combat. (Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh; Toni Reinhold)