Aleksander Reed Skarlatos (//; born October 10, 1992) is an American actor, writer, political candidate and former US Army National Guard soldier who, along with fellow Americans Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, a Briton, a Frenchman, and an American, stopped a gunman on a Paris-bound train travelling from Amsterdam via Brussels in August 2015. He was awarded the United States Army's Soldier's Medal from U.S. President Barack Obama, All six, save for the French passenger who wished to remain anonymous, received France's highest decoration, the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour, from French president François Hollande. The Americans also were awarded the medal of the city of Arras, France.
Skarlatos in 2015
Aleksander Reed Skarlatos
October 10, 1992
|Education||Umpqua Community College|
|Home town||Roseburg, Oregon, U.S.|
|Television||Dancing with the Stars|
|Service/||United States Army|
|Years of service||2012–2017|
|Unit||Oregon Army National Guard|
|Battles/wars||War in Afghanistan|
|Awards||Knight of the Legion of Honour|
Skarlatos was invited to compete on season 21 program of ABC's Dancing with the Stars with pro dancer Lindsay Arnold, as his partner. They finished in third place. Skarlatos, along with his friends, portrayed themselves in the movie The 15:17 to Paris based on their autobiography with Jeffrey E. Stern. He ran for Douglas County Commissioner in 2018, and is running for Oregon's 4th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2020 election.
Aleksander Reed Skarlatos was born in the San Francisco Bay Area city of Castro Valley, California. His father is Emanuel Skarlatos, a Greek who immigrated to the United States as a child. His mother is Heidi Hansen. His step-mother is Karen Skarlatos and his step-father is Tom Hansen. He was raised in Sacramento County, California, where he first met Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler while they attended parochial school in Fair Oaks, California. Their friendship has continued into adulthood. All three share "a deeply religious background and a belief in service to their community" and identify themselves as Christians. Skarlatos graduated from southwest Oregon's Roseburg High School.
2015 Thalys train attackEdit
On August 21, 2015, Skarlatos and two friends from his childhood home of Carmichael, California, were traveling together on Thalys train 9364 from Amsterdam bound to Paris via Brussels. during a vacation in Europe. He was recently back from serving in Afghanistan, and they had been traveling in Germany and the Netherlands. A 25-year-old Moroccan, Ayoub El-Khazzani, exited the toilet in train car No. 12, armed with an AKM assault rifle, a Luger pistol, a box knife, a jar of gasoline and was carrying magazines holding 270 rounds of ammunition for the assault rifle in a rucksack. Two people, a Frenchman, "Damien A.," and 51-year-old Mark Moogalian, an American expatriate living in Paris, tried to stop the gunman. Moogalian wrested the rifle from him, but was shot with the Luger as he tried to protect his wife. Skarlatos' friend, 23-year-old Spencer Stone, ran toward and attacked the gunman next and was slashed while trying to subdue him. Arriving next to the struggle, Skarlatos picked up the assailant's rifle, beating him in the head with its muzzle and 62-year-old Briton Chris Norman also helped subdue the gunman. Though badly cut, Stone choked him until he was unconscious. The terrorist was tied up and then Stone, who had some military medical training, delivered lifesaving assistance to Moogalian by pressing down on an exposed, bleeding artery.
After the attack, on August 22, 2015, Skarlatos and his friends received international attention for their actions in thwarting the attack. French president François Hollande awarded Skarlatos, his friends Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, as well as British businessman Chris Norman, France's highest decoration, Knights of the Legion of Honour (Chevaliers de la Légion d'honneur). Hollande said the men "faced [off] with terror" and that they "gave us a lesson in courage, in will, and therefore in hope". French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve praised them for their bravery, as well as British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The White House expressed gratitude for "courage and quick thinking of several passengers, including U.S. service members, who selflessly subdued the attacker..." U.S. President Barack Obama telephoned the three Americans, thanking them for their heroic actions. General Philip M. Breedlove of the U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, added his voice, calling the three Americans heroes for their actions which "clearly illustrate the courage and commitment our young men and women have all the time, whether they are on duty or on leave."
Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento, California, held a parade to honor Skarlatos, Sadler, Stone, and the victims of the September 11 attacks. Megyn Kelly of Fox News Channel's The Kelly File, asked Skarlatos whether he had a different appreciation of what happened when the World Trade Center collapsed. "I feel so much more connected to terrorist attacks and things like that and victims of terrorist attacks," said Skarlatos, "That easily could have been us if any one of six or seven things went a different way."
Skarlatos joined the Oregon Army National Guard in 2012, achieving the rank of Specialist. He completed a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan with the National Guard's 186th Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team in 2015. The acting adjutant general of Oregon Guard referred to Skarlatos as "a true citizen soldier who displayed the courage each of us would hope to find in ourselves." A month prior to the terrorist event on the high-speed train in France, Skarlatos had reenlisted for an additional two-years. He left the military service in November 2017.
In October 2016, it was announced that Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler would make an appearance on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire as a part of the show's special "Hometown Heroes" week which would premiere on October 31, 2016.
Eastwood ventured to cast Skarlatos and his two friends as themselves, in what was generally regarded by film critics as a major mistake. The New York Daily News film reviewer commented, the disabling of the attacker, "...is among the most exciting moments captured on screen in recent memory." However, he continued, "But that still leaves the vast majority of the film's 94-minute run time to fill. And most of it sure feels like padding." "It's about as interesting as watching strangers' home movies." "The three heroes may now be movie stars, but they're not yet actors." He wrote that Eastwood, "...still hasn't figured out how to take a relatively short dramatic event and build a movie around it." Referencing Skarlatos' Afghan tour, he noted the sequence, "...involves a lost backpack that is eventually recovered without any problem. However, by Skarlatos' own account, the incident was quite major, narrowly avoiding serious disasters, his recounting disputing the accuracy of the film script. The temporary loss of a classified device does not appear in the film. In a Chaplinesque rendition, he admits that he clumsily nearly stepped on an unexploded mortar shell, almost fired an incendiary .50 caliber anti-tank round into a group of children, then lost his backpack that held a "GPS classified technology," whose loss might have cost him and even his superiors a loss in rank. The items were fortunately returned by Afghan villagers, and his team of soldiers agreed to keep news of the gaffe from reaching command staff. Despite that brief episode of excitement, Skarlatos found his tour of duty was largely uneventful, disappointing and boring, where he "...wanted to be a soldier, but instead he was "...a housekeeper," who "...followed janitors around," and compared himself to "...a security guard. A mall cop."
Skarlatos ran for Douglas County Commissioner in his home state of Oregon in the 2018 U.S. midterms, but lost to businessman Tom Kress. Skarlatos said on election night that his opponent's 2% lead made the race still incredibly close, continuing. "We have a lot of great people and I think we’re going to have a better response from the exterior of the county, so I’m still very optimistic." He wasn’t surprised by Kress’s lead, saying, "He’s outspending us by 2 to 1 and took his campaign really negative."
Dancing with the StarsEdit
Skarlatos was announced as a competitor in season 21 of Dancing with the Stars. He was partnered with professional dancer Lindsay Arnold. He said that he was inspired to participate on the show by Noah Galloway, a soldier who was on the previous season of the series. Skarlatos and Arnold made it to the finals of the show and finished in third place.
In September 2018, Skarlatos became an honorary naturalized French citizen, along with Stone and Sadler. A naturalization ceremony was held in Sacramento in January 2019.
Awards and decorationsEdit
|Air Assault Badge|
|Soldier's Medal |
|Oregon Distinguished Service Medal|
In July 2017, it was announced that Clint Eastwood would direct the upcoming biographical film titled after Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler's memoir, starring them, along with actresses Jenna Fischer and Judy Greer. Filming began on July 11, 2017. The film was released in the United States on February 9, 2018. The film received a generally negative reception from critics, who were largely critical of the acting by the three leads.
|2018||The 15:17 to Paris||Himself||Film based on the 2015 Thalys train attack|
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- Skarlatos, Alek; Stone, Spencer; Sadler, Anthony; Stern, Jeffrey (January 2018). The 5:17 To Paris. New York: Public Affairs. pp. 66, 103–109. ISBN 978-1-61039-819-0.
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