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.