2015 Men of the Year: Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, and Anthony Sadler

Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone (right), Aleksander Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler / AP
December 31, 2015

After three days of "doing cool shit" in Amsterdam with two buddies, Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone nodded off on a train bound for Paris.

He awoke when a train employee sprinted past him. Anthony Sadler, a lifelong friend and college student, looked concerned. Then Stone saw him: a shirtless terrorist, equipped with an AK-47 and a backpack strapped to his chest with extra magazines.

Stone’s other friend Alek Skarlatos, a specialist in the Oregon Army National Guard, tapped him on the shoulder. "Let’s go," he said. That was enough for Stone, who hurled himself at the gunman in what he later called an "easy decision."

The terrorist’s gun jammed. Invoking his jiu-jitsu training, Stone ensnared the gunman in a chokehold while Skarlatos grabbed the AK-47 and his other handgun. The Moroccan militant then struck with a knife, nearly severing Stone’s thumb, before losing consciousness.

With the jihadist subdued, Stone and Skarlatos noticed another man bleeding profusely from his neck. Realizing his shirt wasn’t enough, Stone applied his finger to the man’s neck, stanching the flow. He survived.

After their display of bravery on the train, the three bros from California continued to prevail against the odds. Skarlatos impressed the judges on "Dancing with the Stars" so much that he made the grand finale. When asked backstage what America should do to combat ISIS terrorists, he said, "kill them all."

Incredibly, Stone survived a stabbing months later in Sacramento when he attempted to stop a man from harassing some of his female friends. He required open-heart surgery to repair a punctured heart, liver, and lung.

Stone, Skarlatos, and Sadler have received several honors among them for their heroic efforts aboard that train: France’s Legion of Honor, an Airman’s Medal, and the USO's George Van Cleave Military Leadership Award.

But in honor of their valor, self-sacrifice, dexterity, martial arts mastery, medical acumen, waltzing prowess, hatred of terrorists, chivalry, and general badassery, we are proud to present them with the highest honor of all—Washington Free Beacon Men of the Year.

Published under: Men of the Year