The Air Force Staff Sgt. tells PEOPLE he feels connected to those suffering in Brussels

By Susan Young
Updated March 22, 2016 04:45 PM
Credit: Michael Stewart/WireImage

In the wake of the Brussels terrorist attacks that killed dozens and injured hundreds more, one of three Americans who thwarted a terrorist attack on a French train traveling to Paris seven months ago says he’s reminded of what could have happened last summer.

Air Force Staff Sgt. Spencer Stone – who thwarted the French train attack along with pals Army National Guard Specialist Aleksander “Alek” Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler – tells PEOPLE that since that day, terrorist attacks have really hit home.

“Any time something like this happens, I take it personally,” Stone says from Travis Air Force base in California. “I feel connected to everyone over there right now.”

Stone led the charge that day with help from his childhood friends Skarlatos and Sadler. The three were instantly transformed into international heroes due to their actions. Stone was injured in the takedown and spent some time recovering in the hospital.

After the Attacks: The Silent Streets of Brussels

Stone, Skarlatos and Sadler all received the French Legion of Merit. Stone received a rare double promotion, the Purple Heart and the Airman’s Medal, which is the Air Force’s highest non-combat award.

Stone was almost killed on Oct. 8 when he came to the aid of a woman in downtown Sacramento. He was stabbed and his assailant has been charged with attempted murder.

“I’m not one to stand by when something is happening,” Stone says. “My initial thought when I heard [about the Brussels attack] was ‘What can I do to help?’ But the reality is, what can I really do? It makes me mad and I feel for all the victims.”

Each attack reminds him of the importance of his actions last August on the train.

“I’m reminded again that our actions allowed people to go home to their families that day,” Stone says.