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Paris train heroes reunite, professor thanks Spencer Stone for saving his life

A French-American professor thanked the U.S. airman who he said saved his life during an attack by a gunman on a train bound for Paris last month.
/ Source: TODAY

Reunited for the first time since a harrowing attack by a gunman on a train bound for Paris last month, a French-American professor thanked U.S. airman Spencer Stone on TODAY Friday for saving his life.

Mark Moogalian, 51, suffered a gunshot wound and feared for his life at the hands of Morrocan-born man Ayoub El-Khazzani on Aug. 21 before airman Stone, 23, tackled and subdued El-Khazzani. Stone suffered injuries of his own when he said El-Khazzani slashed him with a box cutter on his head, neck and arm. As Stone was bleeding himself, he came to Moogalian's aid, helping to slow down the bleeding in his wound and keep him calm.

"I remember it very well because he was talking to me trying to keep me from losing consciousness, and said after this is over we'll go get a beer," Moogalian told Savannah Guthrie on TODAY Friday. "He just kept me there. The sound of his voice and also the sound of my wife's (voice) just kept me there, kept me alive and gave me hope."

"I didn't feel any of my injuries, I was just really focused on Mark and I just didn't want him to die, especially with Isabelle right there,'' Stone said.

Moogalian thanked Stone over the phone after the incident, and did it again in their reunion on TODAY Friday. He hopes to do it in person in the near future.

"Spencer, I’d just like to tell you again, thanks for saving my life,'' he said. "I know I've said it already, but I’ll never forget it, and I think you still owe me that beer, so we'll have to get that set up somehow."

"Don't worry, we're going to get that beer, and it's going to be under different circumstances this time,'' Stone said. "I'll see you soon man."

Stone and two friends who were with him on vacation, college student Anthony Sadler and Oregon National Guardsman Aleksander Skarlatos, have been lauded as heroes for thwarting the attack. El-Khazzani was carrying a knife, a Lugar pistol and at least 270 bullets in addition to an AK-47, according to prosecutors.

Before the trio were able to subdue El-Khazzani, Moogalian, 51, who was traveling on the train with his wife, Isabelle, was shot when he pried away the assault rifle and El-Khazzani shot him through his shoulder blade and collarbone with the pistol as Moogalian tried to flee.

"I thought he was going to shoot me in the head at that point, so I decided just to play dead and I closed my eyes,'' Moogalian said. "Then I heard some noises, and I opened my eyes just in time to see Spencer's body flying through the air tackling the gunman."

"I remember hitting him pretty hard, we both fell down,'' Stone told Guthrie. "They took the AK from him, he pulled out the pistol, pulled it back, put it against my head, click, it didn't work, I guess the clip fell out beforehand. He started to slash up my neck and cut my finger down to the bone...Then I put him in another chokehold and just choked him unconscious.''

Along with Skarlatos and Sadler, Stone was awarded France's highest honor, the Legion d'Honneur, by French President Francois Hollande for their actions.

Follow writer Scott Stump on Twitter.