(Scroll down for an update to this story)
The TSA is so screwed up, they don’t know a potential terrorist from a US Marine. Yeah, they should be checking everyone. Yeah, the Marines understand the routine and respect the need for security. My biggest question here is, why aren’t there procedures to get these men where they need to go with minimal hassle? There is no more solemn duty, anywhere – and to strip them down in an airport terminal because the TSA agent is too stupid to recognize one of our nation’s heroes is nothing short of disgraceful.
My first reaction is that this is another fine example of the TSA hiring piss-poor screeners at piss-poor wages, providing piss-poor training, thus getting exactly the type of people who are likely to be life-long dumocrats who think it’s all sorts of fun to show their support for the troops by harassing them when they get the chance.
Makes me feel all safe and secure.
The Marines – a sergeant and two corporals – were escorting the body of Sgt. Lea R. Mills from Dover Air Force Base, Del., to his family in Gulfport, Miss. Mills, who was married and lived in Oceanside with his wife, was killed in Iraq on April 28 by a roadside bomb. He was one of three leathernecks killed that day in Iraq’s Anbar province.
They were brothers-in-arms. Like Mills, the Marine escorts are members of the Camp Pendleton-based 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion.
The trio had to go through the terminal’s security in order to reach their flight that would take them to Houston and make sure that Mills’ body was properly placed on the airplane. While their uniforms likely would trigger the metal detector, they had figured they would be able to zip through the screening process and get on with their business.
“Wearing the blues, the metal detector is going to go off,” said Sgt. John Stock, a mechanic, who was accompanied by Cpls. Aaron Bigalk and Jason Schadeburg.
But as the Marines went through the initial screener in their dress blues, they were stopped by several TSA agents. Each was told to remove their dress uniform blouse, belt and black dress shoes, which were scanned by the detector, as the agents scanned them with hand-held detecting wands.
“They had me take off my shoes and ran them through the screening,” Stock said, speaking by phone May 5 from Gulfport, where the men are helping with Mills’ family and funeral support. “We all got searched.”
Then they were taken to a nearby room, where TSA workers patted them down.
At one point, Stock’s shoes disappeared, leaving him to frantically search for them and retrieve them from a TSA agent. Separated from their belongings, which included the flag that they bore that would drape Mills’ casket for the rest of the journey home, they worried about getting to the gate in time to ensure his safe placement in the airplane.
Time, it seemed like a half-hour, clicked by. “I was like, hey, we need to be on the tarmac,” Stock recalled. “It just took longer than it should have had to take.”
The agents said nothing to explain why all three were singled out for additional search and the Marines didn’t protest. “We were just trying to get there as quick as we could,” he added.
In all, it was a humiliating experience that left them angry.
“They could probably tell that I was pissed off,” said Stock, who noted that he’s never encountered that kind of search when going through airport security in uniform.
“I understand if I was in civilian clothes. But with what we were wearing and what we were doing…,” he said, noting that “we had the flag with us.”
Call it a simple search based on the metal detector going off if you want, but there’s no doubt these men were subjected to more than a “normal” search. They were in uniform; they undoubtedly had their orders in hand; there was no doubt who they were or what they were doing. It seems that some liberal anti-war prick felt the need to make a statement of some kind.
Stock, Bigalk, and Schadeburg… I wonder how many Hussein’s, Achmenijads, and Abdullah’s strolled through that day without a moment’s delay? Good thing we know who the enemy is, eh?
If you’re the type given to prayer, how about putting in a good word for the family of Sgt. Lea R. Mills and the Marines escorting him home. While you’re at it, those idiot screeners could use a little enlightenment, too.
(edit, found this later)
http://www.marinecorpstimes.com/story.php?f=1-292925-1761087.php TSA erred in delaying fallen Marine’s escorts
According to Kayser, TSA has special screening guidelines in place for service members who are accompanying the bodies of fallen service members to their families for burial. “These guidelines reflect the agency’s utmost respect for those who have lost their lives in service to this country, their families, and those who bring them home with honor,” TSA officials said in a statement provided by Kayser.
“We sincerely regret any inconvenience that Marines from the 1st [Marine] Division experienced during the screening process at Philadelphia International Airport,” the statement said. “We take their concerns very seriously and have communicated directly with Marine Corps leadership.”
Kayser said that provisions are intended to help smooth the process. “It is a fairly regular occurrence, unfortunately, that we have soldiers coming through with remains. There is a process in place that they should follow.”
It’s likely the three escorts, who had come from their Camp Pendleton base to accompany the casket from Dover Air Force Base, Del., weren’t aware of the special rules.
So the official word from the TSA is that there are “special provisions” in place for military escorts, but since the Marine’s didn’t jump through some special hoop set up for them, they were instead harassed.
I’m pleased to see the TSA responded to this quickly – but I’m not too thrilled with this finger pointing at the travel-weary Marines trying to perform their duties.