SACRAMENTO, Calif. – An American college student who along with two friends helped stop a terror attack on a high-speed train traveling from Amsterdam to Paris returned home to California.
A relaxed Anthony Sadler, 23, walked off a commercial plane at Sacramento International Airport accompanied by his parents Tuesday.
The Sacramento State University student, dressed in black shorts and a gray sweatshirt, was carrying a black backpack as the family walked into the tarmac with the rest of the passengers. Instead of using a jetway to the terminal like other travelers, the family was led to an area where several sheriff's vehicles waited.
The family didn't speak to reporters at the airport and they hadn't arrived to their home on a tree-lined street of the Sacramento suburb of Rancho Cordova, where TV trucks and a cluster of reporters waited outside Tuesday night.
The family landed in Sacramento after taking a private jet to Portland, Oregon. Columbia Sportswear CEO Timothy Boyle had made the jet available to fly the Americans' mothers to France.
Sadler and two Sacramento-area friends, U.S. Air Force Airman Spencer Stone, 23, and Oregon National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos, 22, helped subdue Ayoub El-Khazzani, a man with ties to radical Islam who was carrying a handgun and an assault weapon on the train Friday.
Stone was undergoing treatment at a military hospital in Germany for injuries suffered in the attack. Skarlatos remained with Stone in Germany.
Senior U.S. Army leaders said Skarlatos will get the Soldiers Medal — the Army's highest award for acts of heroism not involving actual conflict with the enemy.
The city of Sacramento is planning a parade for all three men, who grew up in the area.
John Dickson arrived on the same plane as Sadler and said they became good friends after meeting in a math class three years ago at Sacramento State University.
He said no one noticed Sadler was on the plane until he was approached on board by a TV producer.
"He was very relaxed," Dickson said as he left the Sacramento airport. "Very low key."
Dickson said he, too, was returning from Europe and that he had made plans to meet Sadler during their European vacation.
"We were supposed to link up in Europe but it never happened," he said.
Alina Ezzi was at the Sacramento airport Tuesday hoping to greet Sadler after hearing of his pending arrival through the media.
"I've just been super interested in it," said the San Francisco State University student. "It's a fascinating story: People see what happens and decide to stand up. ... I feel like our society is finally stepping up to the plate."
She said that sort of heroic behavior should be rewarded after the 9/11 attacks.