The heroes of Arizona

It’s an ancient warfare tactic, and one terrorists of every stripe employ to wreak violence on the innocent: The element of surprise. Once the attacker ambushes presumably unarmed civilians, in a peaceful setting, the victims are usually paralyzed through shock and cannot defend themselves.

It takes remarkable presence of mind to survive – much less mount a unified offensive against the attacker and save other innocents. In the Arizona attack Saturday that killed six and injured 14, the heroes who intervened include 74-year-old retired Army Col. Bill Badger, Roger Sulzgeber, Joseph Zimudie and Patricia Maisch, 61.

That morning Badger, Sulzgeber and Maisch were in line for U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords at her meet-and-greet at a Tucson grocery store. Zimudie was also nearby when the alleged killer – Jared Loughner – fired at Giffords and others with a 9-mm semi-automatic pistol.

The four retaliated, tackling, subduing and disarming the shooter. When Loughner reached to reload, Maisch heard someone say, “Get the magazine!”

“So I got the magazine, and I was able to secure that. That’s what needed to be done!” she said.

It is very difficult to remain cool, calm and deliberate after having been surprised by gunshots going off and people dropping to the ground near you – and that’s in a war zone. It’s all the more difficult when all you were doing was waiting to greet your favorite politician.

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