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Roseburg hero takes third on 'Dancing with the Stars'

Alek Skarlatos took third in the “Dancing with the Stars” competition Tuesday, but he will keep right on dancing.

Skarlatos, the Roseburg hero who gained fame for thwarting a would-be terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in August, will be home for Thanksgiving, then he will join a 43-city tour from Dec. 15 to Valentine’s Day.

Skarlatos and his partner, Lindsay Arnold, danced their way to the finals in the ABC-TV competition this week, partly due to their popularity with viewers. Scoring was split between viewers and judges.

Karen Skarlatos said her son was fine with the third-place finish.

“Of course, it’s always nice to win, but to him, I believe every week that he stayed in was a win. He was very happy with the outcome,” she said.

Right after Tuesday’s finale, Skarlatos was hurried off in a jet to New York City so he could be interviewed on Good Morning America.

Karen Skarlatos said she was thrilled by the audience’s outpouring of support for her son.

“It made us very proud, of course. He is kind of America’s sweetheart in this,” she said.

Skarlatos, a member of the Oregon Army National Guard’s Charlie Company, jumped into action Aug. 21 after Ayoub El Khazzani of Morocco opened fire on a train headed to Paris from Amsterdam. Khazzani was armed with an AK-47, a handgun and a box cutter. Skarlatos and three other men — Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone of California, Sacramento State University student Anthony Sadler and Briton Chris Norman — subdued the shooter.

Since the incident, Skarlatos has received a hero’s welcome in cities from New York to Paris. He received France’s highest honor, the French Legion d’ Honneur, was welcomed to New York by 200 police officers on his return to the U.S. and met President Barack Obama.

In September, ABC announced Skarlatos would join the cast of “Dancing with the Stars.”

In Tuesday’s finale, Bindi Irwin and her dance partner, Derek Hough, took home the top prize, called the mirrorball trophy. Irwin is the daughter of the late Australian wildlife expert Steve Irwin, better known as the “Crocodile Hunter.” Second place went to Nick Carter, who is a member of the pop band Backstreet Boys, and his partner Sharna Burgess.

Reach reporter Carisa Cegavske at 541-957-4213 or ccegavske@nrtoday.com.

Alek Skarlatos (AP photo)