French train hero Spencer Stone returns to California

Air Force medic Spencer Stone, 22, hugs a well-wisher after he landed Thursday night at Travis Air Force Base.
Air Force medic Spencer Stone, 22, hugs a well-wisher after he landed Thursday night at Travis Air Force Base. Peter Hecht

One of Sacramento’s heroes came home tonight.

Air Force medic Spencer Stone, 22, stepped out of a giant refueling plane that carried him home to a cheering reception of 300 flag-waving service members and their familes at Travis Air Force Base after an 11 1/2-hour flight from Germany. One of three Sacramento friends lauded for their bravery in thwarting a would-be terrorist act last month in France, Stone was ushered through a thick crowd into a suite ordinarily reserved for visiting dignitaries or members of Congress.

Stone’s flight touched down shortly before 8:30 p.m. He stepped off the plane with his mother, Joyce Eskel, waved at the crowd as he went down the stairs before hugging his sister, Kellie Stone, and Solon Skarlatos, the brother of Stone’s friend and fellow train hero, Alek Skarlatos.

Stone was one of three Sacramento-area friends who earned international applause –and the Legion of Honor medal at the Elysee Palace in Paris – after taking down and disarming a gunman on a French train on Aug. 22.

Stone was stabbed with a box cutter during the struggle with the accused gunman Ayoub El Khazani, 25, whom French authorities said was planning to commit mass murder on a high-speed train bound from Amsterdam to Paris.

Stone and friends Alek Skarlatos, 22, and Anthony Sadler, 23, charged the gunman as he began to shoot. Stone got to the gunman first and, though injured himself, also later rendered medical assistance to a wounded French passenger.

Stone, who was hospitalized at Ramstein Air Base after the incident, will get follow-up care at the David Grant U.S. Air Force Medical Center at Travis. An airman first class, Stone received his medic training at the base.

“He is checking into the hospital for his continued medical care,” said Lt. Col Robert Couse-Baker, Travis base spokesman. “Then he is going to be released for rest and recuperation.”

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Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson announced today what he calls a fitting day for the planned Sacramento Hometown Heroes Parade – Friday, Sept. 11 saluting Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler. They will be honored with a noon parade on Capitol Mall.

“Our community has been anxiously awaiting the return of our three hometown heroes –Anthony, Alek and Spencer – so that we can celebrate and honor their incredible courage,” Mayor Johnson said on Thursday. “It’s fitting that we’re having this event on September 11th. What better way to remember the victims and sacrifices that were made on that tragic day and to celebrate the strength and character of our country.”

The parade will also so honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the mayor’s office said. The parade is being organized by the mayor’s office, the Governor’s office, state legislative officials, the U.S. Air Force and the National Guard.

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