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The three American heroes on the French train

Posted by John Reed on

Like most Americans, I am really proud of the three guys in France who stopped the Moroccan terrorist on the French train. The group was reminiscent of one of those suspiciously diverse World War II movie infantry squads where they had an Italian-American, a German-American, a Jewish-American, an Irish-American, etc. The three Americans were Sadler (black), Skarlatos (Greek I assume), and the main hero, Spencer Stone.

Unarmed white and black guys attacking an armed Islamic terrorist—it’s a good thing they didn’t do it in Ferguson

The bad guy had an AK, pistol, and knives. The Americans charged at him. They were unarmed. They did what I have recommend in my articles about the various shooters at Virginia Tech and so on. You have to charge the guy when the alternative is to just sit there and be killed. This is especially likely to succeed when the guy is changing magazines.

Of course, it’s easier for me to write about it than it was for them to do it.

Mental reps

I have a theory about this. It explains the recent propensity of American military personnel to throw themselves on grenades to save their buddies. I think they are giving themselves what my son’s college football coaches called “mental reps.” That is, they are imaging themselves become a post-humous MOH winner by throwing themselves on a grenade. That day dreaming is the equivalent of military drill. The more times you picture yourself doing it, the greater the probability you will do it if and when the situation arises. You have turned it into instinct by mentally rehearsing it.

Bad idea in the case of the grenades. See my article on military medals:

I would like to ask Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone if they ever mentally repped what they would do previously upon hearing about the various shooters.

Military backgrounds probably irrelevant

The media made much of the military background of the guys. Indeed, an early report said they were marines. I would like to ask the reporter who said they were marines why he did that. I predict the answer would be “I assumed it.” “Uh huh. And why did you assume it? Not smart enough to see past 250 years of marines hyping themselves?” President Truman, an Army combat vet of WW I, once said that every marine rifle squad had two photographers.

In fact, Sadler had no military experience. Skarlatos did a tour in Afghanistan with the OR National Guard. And Stone is an active-duty airman in the US Air Force stationed in Europe. Stone has had EMT training and after he was wounded he helped some civilian who had been wounded.

I do not know if the military training or experience of Skarlatos or Stone had anything to do with what they did on the train. Generally, the military have neither training nor experience at charging at an armed terrorist when they are unarmed. More likely they have in the past thought about “what would I do” if I was ever in a situation like Fort Hood or Virginia Tech. They concluded the only thing to do would be to charge at the guy and overpower him before he shot them. They mentally rehearsed that by having those thoughts, then when it actually happened, they were ready. They may have even discussed it with each other back when they heard about other shooters. I am not sure of that, but it is a far more likely source of their quick, best-defense-is-a-good-offense action than their military experience.

Real heroes for a change

The shooter on the train put his gun to Stone’s head twice during the scuffle and pulled the trigger. It did not go off. The shooter then pulled out a box cutter and slashed Stone enough to send him to the hospital. All three of them beat the son of a bitch unconscious. I think they should have cleared the jam in his weapon and emptied a magazine into his head. Now he will get out of jail at some point.

I continue to be distressed that our nation of draft dodgers attributes so much extreme skill and wonderfulness to our military. Our military goes into harm’s way and puts up with various deprivations and separations from loved ones. I and tens of millions of other Americans were among them. But I think the military experience of two of these guys was probably irrelevant to what they did to the shooter. And one of these three heroes had no military experience.

I have also been greatly distressed at the word “hero” being applied to every Tom, Dick, and Harry who enlists in the military on their first day of basic training. You want to see some real heroes? I refer you to Sadler, Skarlatos, and Stone. And you should contrast their behavior with that of the train employee who sprinted past them running away from the gunman, and all the other persons on the train.

Only about 14 countries willing to fight

I once counted the number of countries whose citizens “march to the sound of the guns” and fight in wars. I only found 14 countries out of the more than 200 on earth. UK, US, Russia, Vietnam, Japan, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany once upon a time, and a few others. Most countries, however, don’t fight effectively in wars. None in Latin America; few in Africa, few in Asia. And there might only be one more in Europe.

The fact that our country is one of the few that has men, and now women, who march to the sound of the guns is totally unappreciated by the American people, and to a lesser extent by the people of the world. Many of my West Point classmates were spit on or spit at after we marched to the sound of the guns in the 1960s. A high percentage of Americans not only do not appreciate the wonderfulness of having citizens willing to fight for the country, they actually hate the U.S. military for various ideological reasons. I suspect the current Commander in Chief and his most recent Democrat predecessor Draft Dodger in Chief were among them. (A lot of the world’s people were liberated by the Americans and DO appreciate it.)


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