What makes a hero

Story highlights

  • 3 friends from U.S. among those credited with averting terrorist attack
  • Mel Robbins: They went from vacationers to guardians

Mel Robbins is a CNN commentator, legal analyst, best-selling author and keynote speaker. In 2014, she was named outstanding news talk-radio host by the Gracie Awards. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

(CNN)They were on a packed train heading for Paris when gunshots rang out. Moments later, a shirtless Ayoub El Khazzani entered the train car with multiple weapons. Mark Moogalian, a 51-year-old American and author and teacher, moved on instinct "to protect his wife" and lunged.

Meanwhile, Alek Skarlatos, a member of the U.S. National Guard, had seen the gunman, too. All it took were three words, "Let's go, go" and he and his childhood buddies Spencer Stone, a U.S. Air Force airman; and Anthony Sadler, a senior at Sacramento State, switched from vacationers to guardians, charging down the aisle of the train to help. Their heroism inspired Chris Norman, a British businessman, to join them.