Army Staff Sgt. Eddie Peoples said when he saw the suspect with the gun, he thought it was a joke.
"My children also thought it was a joke, they started laughing," he said.
But it didn't take long before Peoples realized it was no joke. He and his two little boys were caught up in a bank robbery in Sarasota, Fla.
Surveillance video shows a man pointing a weapon at customers, while People is seen moving chairs around to hide his children.
A man in black shorts, later identified as Army Staff Sgt. Eddie Peoples, starts moving chairs around to hide his two kids.
Peoples appeared on "Good Morning America" on Friday, saying his instincts kicked in when the suspect threatened to open fire.
"My whole mission at that point was to get this guy before he got on the road, before he could potentially hurt anyone else. If I could buy the police a little bit of time, that's exactly what I'm going to do," he said.
Police said Peoples followed the suspect outside and blocked his car so he couldn't get away. Not only that, Peoples disarmed the man and pinned him to the ground.
"I fully expected to take at least two shots through the windshield. When he didn't do that, he came to the back door and actually tried to hijack the van," Peoples said.
He re-enacted the whole event with George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America."
The suspect was arrested, and his gun turned out to be fake.
Meantime, Peoples hopes to enjoy the rest of his leave with his family before heading back to his post in Italy.