Laid-back American heroes buddies since childhood

U.S. ambassador to France Jane Hartley (not pictured) presents U.S Airman First Class Spencer Stone, student Anthony Sadler and National Guardsman Alek Skarlatos (L to R) as they attend a ceremony at the U.S. Embassy in Paris, France, August 23, 2015. The three men helped overpower a Kalashnikov-toting attacker on a high speed train heading for Paris from Amsterdam on Friday.

REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

Three young Americans hailed as heroes after tackling a heavily armed gunman on a Paris-bound high-speed train are childhood friends. Relatives describe the trio from middle school as laid back and humorous, but they were anything but that on Friday as they acted in the face of a terrifying situation, reports CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano.

"If it wasn't for them, I would have been dead. So we all had a critical role in whatever happened," Spencer Stone said.

Stone credits trust in friends Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler Jr. with helping to subdue the gunman. The three men grew up together in the suburbs of Sacramento.

"I don't know what I would have done if I was by myself... I saw Spencer get up, I saw Alek get up. And those are my close friends... I couldn't let them go alone," Sadler said.

Stone, 23, is a U.S. Airman First Class and paramedic in the Air Force. His brother Everett describes him as a warrior.

Train attack foiled by American trio

"A lot of people just sit back, and if something ever happened like that we weren't just gonna sit down and take it. And he did exactly what he said we would do and he stopped the guy from killing everybody," Everett said.

Stone reportedly played childhood Army games with next-door neighbor Skarlatos. Skarlatos is now 22 years old and a member of the Oregon National Guard who served in Afghanistan.

"I am so proud of both of them, so much. The fact that they saved all those lives and had that instinct and the guts to just do what they did!" Skarlatos' father, Emanuel, said.

The pair were accompanying Sadler on his first trip to Europe. Sadler is a 23-year-old senior at Sacramento State University. His parents are still in disbelief.

"The proud came later. Initially it was shock, concern and thankfulness that he was not hurt or injured... You live life, you do the best you can and you trust God to take care of you when you can't take care of yourself," Tony Sadler Sr. said.

President Obama called all three men to congratulate them on their heroism. There is no word yet when they will return to the U.S.