Paris train attack hero Anthony Sadler describes 'surreal' experience

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
Paris Train Attack Hero Anthony Sadler Describes 'Surreal' Experience

One of the three American heroes who helped thwart a heavily armed gunman on a passenger train in France last month said he'd like to think others in his position would have done the same thing.

"I don't think I'm any different than the average American. When people are faced with this situation, I feel like it is a choice. Like, you think, 'Should I do something or should I go hide?' And I just want everybody to know that they should do something," Anthony Sadler, a college student from California, told NBC's Lester Holt in an exclusive interview.

Sadler was traveling with his longtime friends, Oregon National Guardsman Aleksander Skarlatos and U.S. Airman Spencer Stone, when they helped take down alleged gunman Ayoub El-Khazzani, 26, on an Amsterdam-to-Paris train on Aug. 22.

RELATED: Spencer Stone should be called 'Captain America,' commander says

"Me and Spencer and Alek have grown up talking about these kinds of things — what we would do in those situations. And we always said we would've acted. But you never know until it happens."

Sadler said he and his friends were asleep when the sound of a gunshot and breaking glass woke them up. A train employee sped by down the aisle and suddenly, he saw the gunman enter the train car.

See photos of the hero passengers:

7 PHOTOS
France train attack - hero passengers
See Gallery
Paris train attack hero Anthony Sadler describes 'surreal' experience
(From L) US ambassador to France Jane Hartley, off-duty US servicemen Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos smile during a press conference at the US embassy in Paris on August 23, 2015, two days after 25-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani opened fire on a Thalys train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring two people before being tackled by several passengers including off-duty American servicemen. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Off-duty US serviceman Alek Skarlatos looks on during a press conference at the US embassy in Paris on August 23, 2015, two days after 25-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani opened fire on a Thalys train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring two people before being tackled by several passengers including off-duty American servicemen. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Off-duty US servicemen Spencer Stone (R), Alek Skarlatos (2nd R) and US ambassador to France Jane Hartley (L) arrive to attend a press conference at the US embassy in Paris on August 23, 2015, two days after 25-year-old Moroccan Ayoub El-Khazzani opened fire on a Thalys train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring two people before being tackled by several passengers including off-duty American servicemen. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS SAMSON (Photo credit should read THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Off-duty US Air Force Spencer Stone (L), one of the men to overpower the gunman who opened fire with an assault rifle on a high-speed train, gestures as he leaves the hopistal of Lesquin, northern France on August 22, 2015. On August 21, 2015, a gunman opened fire on the train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring two people before being tackled by several passengers including off-duty American servicemen. Spencer Stone was first to the gunman who slashed him in the neck and almost sliced off his thumb with a box-cutter. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Anthony Sadler (L), from Pittsburg, California, and Alek Skarlatos from Roseburg, Oregon, hold their medals as they sit in a restaurant after a brief ceremony in the town of Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. The American servicemen overpowered a gunman armed with a Kalashnikov who opened fire on a high-speed train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris on August 20, 2015. (Photo by AFP/Getty Images)
Off-duty US Air Force Spencer Stone (L), one of the men to overpower the gunman who opened fire with an assault rifle on a high-speed train, gestures as he leaves the hopistal of Lesquin, northern France on August 22, 2015. On August 21, 2015, a gunman opened fire on the train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring two people before being tackled by several passengers including off-duty American servicemen. Spencer Stone was first to the gunman who slashed him in the neck and almost sliced off his thumb with a box-cutter. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"Spencer was first, and I saw him make it to the gunman, I was like, 'Okay, so we have a chance now.' Once he got there, we followed up, about a few seconds later," he said. "And then we just did whatever we could to disarm him."

It was only days later did Sandler start realizing the danger he put himself in.

"I've kind of laid down and kind of thought just how easily things could have gone the other way. When we actually got up to rush him, he did fire it at Spencer. But it just never went off," he said. "So the whole time I'm kind of expecting a gunshot to go off, but it just never came."

The three American friends, along with another man who helped, British businessman Chris Norman,were awarded France's Legion d'Honneur, the nation's highest honor, by French President Francois Hollande for their heroism.

"It's pretty surreal. I was just out of the country for the first time, trying to experience things," Sadler said. "And now I'm a hero in another country. It's pretty crazy to think about."

Follow TODAY.com writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.

SEE ALSO: Photos from the scene of the attack:
12 PHOTOS
France train attack
See Gallery
Paris train attack hero Anthony Sadler describes 'surreal' experience
Crime and forensic investigators stand on a platform next to a Thalys train of French national railway operator SNCF at the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. The motives behind the attack were not immediately known. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
An injured man is carried away on a stretcher from the train station of Arras, northern France, after being injured on August 21, 2015 when a gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris. A heavily armed man opened fire on a high-speed train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris on August 21, injuring at least two people before being overpowered by passengers. AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read -/AFP/Getty Images)
Police arive to inspect the crime scene inside a Thalys train of French national railway operator SNCF at the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. The motives behind the attack were not immediately known. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Police work on a platform next to a Thalys train of French national railway operator SNCF at the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. The motives behind the attack were not immediately known. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Rescue workers are seen on a platform at the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
A Thalys train of French national railway operator SNCF stands at the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. The motives behind the attack were not immediately known. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
French police and train personnel stand outside the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. The motives behind the attack were not immediately known. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
French police stand inside the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. The motives behind the attack were not immediately known. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Police inspect a crime scene inside a Thalys train of French national railway operator SNCF at the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. The motives behind the attack were not immediately known. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Crime investigators look into the window of a Thalys train of French national railway operator SNCF at the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. The motives behind the attack were not immediately known. AFP PHOTO / PHILIPPE HUGUEN (Photo credit should read PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
An ambulance stands outside the main train station in Arras, northern France, on August 21, 2015. A gunman opened fire on a train travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, injuring three people before being overpowered by passengers, French state rail company SNCF and rescue services said. Two of the victims were seriously injured and at least one suffered gunshot wounds, an SNCF spokesman said, adding that the assailant was armed with guns and knives. (Photo by PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE


More on AOL.com:
Hundreds of migrants protest at Budapest station, want to go to Germany
Thai police: Suspect's prints match those on bomb material
A look at what migrants are carrying with them to Europe
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners

15 Recall the Kindest Thing a Stranger Ever Did for Them 15 Recall the Kindest Thing a Stranger Ever Did for Them
Man's Wife Leaves Him And Their Kids After A Fight - Two Days Later He Posts This Man's Wife Leaves Him And Their Kids After A Fight - Two Days Later He Posts This
Man Finds 5 Abandoned 'Puppies' In His Garden - Then Quickly Realizes He Made A Big Man Finds 5 Abandoned 'Puppies' In His Garden - Then Quickly Realizes He Made A Big