Obama calls trio who thwarted train attack 'best of America'

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NTP: Obama meets with Paris train shooting heroes
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Obama calls trio who thwarted train attack 'best of America'
US President Barack Obama waves at a reporter watched by US Army Specialist Alek Skarlatos (L), US Air Force Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone (2nd L), and Anthony Sadler (R) following a meeting on September 17, 2015 in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC. The three friends helped overpower a gunman on a Paris-bound train on August 21. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
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WASHINGTON (AP) — This time, they suited up.

The three young Americans who thwarted a gunman on a Paris-bound passenger train last month got their moment in the Oval Office on Thursday — and they dressed for it.

President Barack Obama praised Alek Skarlatos, Spencer Stone and Anthony Sadler for teamwork, courage and quick-thinking actions that averted "a real calamity."

He celebrated them as three friends who had been headed for a fun reunion in Paris when they "ended up engaging a potential catastrophic situation and pinning down someone who clearly was intent on doing a lot of harm to a lot of people, inflicting terror on the French people."

The three sat attentively on an Oval Office couch and chair as Obama praised them as "the very best of America."

They previously had been awarded France's highest honor by President Francois Hollande. They showed up for that hastily scheduled ceremony at the ornate Elysee Palace a little underdressed — in polo shirts and khakis.

This time, Oregon National Guardsman Skarlatos and Airman 1st Class Stone were in military uniform and Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State University, wore a sport coat and open-collared dress shirt.

"It's these kinds of young people who make me extraordinarily optimistic about the future," Obama said.

More on the three men who stopped the attack:

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France train attack - hero passengers
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Obama calls trio who thwarted train attack 'best of America'
(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)
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The three last month subdued a man with ties to radical Islam who boarded the train with a Kalashnikov rifle, a pistol and a box cutter. A British businessman and a French-American also have been praised for their efforts to stop the gunman.

As for what the future holds, Obama said Stone, whose hand was injured in the attack, is "making real progress" and intends to pursue work in medicine, Sadler is studying sports medicine and therapy, and Skarlatos "as soon as he's finished on 'Dancing with the Stars,' plans to get into law enforcement."

"Whatever they do," the president added, "they're going to do it well. And we just wanted to say thank you to them not only for saving so many lives but also for making America look so good."

Later Thursday, the friends were heading to the Pentagon, where Stone was being awarded the prestigious Airman's Medal and a Purple Heart, and Army Specialist Skarlatos was in line for the Army's Soldiers Medal.

It's been a head-snapping month for the three twenty-somethings since their quick actions on the train transformed them into instant celebrities.

In addition to their official honors, the three have appeared in a California parade, Sadler had a turn on "The Tonight Show" with Jimmy Fallon, and Skarlatos is "DWTS" material on ABC.

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Follow Benac on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nbenac

Obama Meets with Paris Train Heroes

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