Iraq Veteran Has Necklace With a Love Letter Inside Confiscated by TSA

A former Marine, veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, finally met his match in combat with the TSA at Washington’s National airport. He was wearing a necklance “with a small hollowed out cartridge with the U.S. Marines emblem etched on the outside” and inside was a love letter his girlfriend had written to him.

He had spent 3 days “visiting memorials of his fallen fellow Marines at Arlington National Cemetery” and visiting with Marines he had served with. On his way out of DC the TSA told he he could not pass through the checkpoint with the necklace, and it would have to be confiscated, because it resembled a “simulator of some kind.” A supervisor with the agency “ripped it off the chain and disposed of it.”

“I don’t even know what that means,” said Bradley, who said the object poses no danger and was not questioned by TSA personnel in Minneapolis when flew to Washington D.C. a few days earlier to attend a reunion of Marines he served with in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition to the love letter, the necklace also contained “a pendant with his late grandfather’s fingerprints and a cross he wore through the wars.” Fortunately the TSA was gracious enough to permit him to keep those.

However he watched as the TSA supervisor put the rest in the trash bin. He left the screening area, but returned hoping he could convince someone to return it. However the trash had already been taken.

The supervisor told him, “You can file complaint.”

The TSA enforces protocol, admittedly erratically and when anyone bothers to notice. It doesn’t matter whether doing so enhances aviation security or not. Of course once called out on it they were willing to break protocol and return the confiscated item to the Marine.

According to the TSA “In general, real and replica ammunition is not permitted past checkpoints. An item of this nature is up to the discretion of the TSA officer.” So the TSA can do whatever they wish — even though TSA’s official policy is that empty shell casings are permitted in carry on luggage provided that the primer has been removed and the projectile is no longer intact — as in this case.

As they say, a few bad apples who in no way undermine the hard work that thousands of men and women at the TSA do to keep us safe, day in and day out.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Obviously this was stupid and unnecessary. A terrible power trip. Nonetheless, you’re very strong views of the TSA seem to be influencing you here. Couldn’t you throw us all a curve ball and write something genuinely nice about the TSA? Just once?

  2. @ Gary — That TSA agent is lucky he didn’t get his face bashed by the veteran. Not the ideal person to pick a fight with.

  3. If that had an amount of the sentimental value I would (think?) it has, I’m not going through security. I would gladly pay $2-300 to change my flight or whatever so I could go and mail it…

    (or try a different checkpoint). No way I would leave that behind.

  4. Shut down TSA. It is a money pit and does virtually nothing meaningful to enhance security. It merely provides an ILLUSION of security which is, apparently, good enough for politicians and most uninformed citizens. Otherwise, it is useless and a waste of mine and your taxpayer $$$.

  5. Having served 5 years in Iraq that TSA agent is lucky to be up right and able to breathe with out a machine.

  6. It’s truly disgusting how little respect our veterans receive. Thankfully he was able to overcome this power trip and get his priceless items back.

  7. @Christian I’m sure Gary would write nice things if he could think of something nice to say about the TSA. But there is nothing nice to say about America’s secret police force that are above the law and over 90% unable to detect what they are supposed to.

  8. @121Pilot – I’m not so sure that he would say something nice. Gary has extremely strong feelings on the subject and it’s kind of a one note song. I have the same shortcoming regarding TPG.

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