Alek Skarlatos: ‘Good to be home with family’

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France Train Attack_196194

Alek Skarlatos attends a press conference held at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence with Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento University in California, and U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, in Paris, France, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone helped foil a potentially deadly attack when they subdued a man armed with an assault rifle and […]

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — “We were very lucky. God was watching out for us.”

Those are the words of 22-year-old Alek Skarlatos in his first interview since returning to the United States.

Skarlatos was on a train to Paris last week when he and two other Americans, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler, stopped a terrorist attack.

“A guy walked by with an AK-47,” he told KOIN 6 News in a phone interview. “We knew what we had to do.”

Skarlatos spoke with KOIN 6 News from a restaurant in New York where he was having dinner with his brother. He is scheduled to make an appearance on network television on Friday morning.

“It’s good to be home,” he said. “It’s good to be with family.”

Skarlatos said he plans to spend time in New York and then head back to Germany where his friend Spencer Stone is recovering at Ramstein Air Force Base.

The Oregon National Guardsman said he is touched by the outpouring he has received since the incident.

“It has been so overwhelming,” he told KOIN 6 News. “I didn’t even think about it when it was happening. Spencer said we should get him and we moved. We were really lucky.”

Skarlatos and Stone, an Airman First Class, grew up together in California. They were joined by on the trip by their friend Anthony Sadler who returned to California earlier this week.

The US Army will honor Skarlatos with the Soldier’s Medal, the highest award for actions not taken in combat with the enemy. The Army said he “distinguished himself in a courageous manner, voluntarily accepting risk to his own life.”

That comes on the heels of Skarlatos being awarded France’s highest honor.

Skarlatos shies away from the hero talk.

“We knew what could happen and we acted,” he told KOIN 6 News. “We weren’t trying to be heroes. We were just doing what had to be done.

“The whole thing is just overwhelming, We were very lucky that God was watching out for us.”

Skarlatos said that while he is aware of the media attention he is focused on his friend’s recovery.

“Spencer’s getting better,” he says. “Still has  a way to go.”

Skarlatos said he is still trying to figure out what’s next.

“I know I was on vacation,” he says. “But feel like I still need a vacation.”

He said he is looking forward to his return to Roseburg, where he grew up and graduated high school.

In the meantime, he said he is just enjoying  being with family who flew in to join him in New York.

“It’s really nice,” he told KOIN 6 News. “Real nice.”

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