French President Hollande Awards Mark Moogalian with Legion d’Honneur


President Francois Hollande with Mark Moogalian and his wife, Isabella Risacher, at the Elysee Palace

President Francois Hollande with Mark Moogalian and his wife, Isabella Risacher, at the Elysee Palace

PARIS (Combined Sources) — French President Francois Hollande, on September 14, awarded Mark Moogalian, who was the first to wrestle a weapon from the Paris-Brussels train gunman on August 21, with France’s highest prize for bravery, the Legion d’Honneur.

Moogalian had tried to neutralize Ayoub El-Khazzani, the alleged gunman, aboard an Amsterdam-Paris train. Moogalian was seriously wounded during the incident.

That’s when three other Americans aboard the train leaped into action.

Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos and college student Anthony Sadler — childhood friends with ties to the Sacramento, California, area — received France’s highest medal, making them Chevaliers, knights of the Legion of Honour. They stood on a podium as Hollande spoke, then received their medals as the crowd applauded.

A fourth man, British businessman Chris Norman, was also honored.

Hollande said the men showed “that faced with terror, we have the power to resist. You also gave a lesson in courage, in will, and thus in hope.”

The American-born Moogalian, originally from Virginia, has lived in France for more than two decades and teaches at the Sorbonne.