Warriors and the Oakland Airport: The Final Story

BY Herschel Smith
10 years, 6 months ago

In Marine Artillery Does Oakland, I covered my contempt for the Oakland Airport Authorities (upon their refusal even to allow Marines to deplane their aircraft at the terminal to meet family members) along with my plans for an amphibious assault on the Socialist Republic of San Francisco to reoccupy it for the United States of America.  In response to this article, I received a note from a nice woman at the Department of Homeland Security that reads as follows.

I was reading your blog, and wanted to send you TSA’s statement on what happened at Oakland.


On Thursday, September 27, 2007 North American Airlines flight #1777 carrying soldiers and marines landed at Oakland International Airport from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) where passengers were screened by U.S. Customs upon landing from overseas.

At no time were service men and women prohibited from entering the sterile area of Oakland International Airport by TSA personnel or regulations. Airport officials, the airline and ground handling company coordinated the arrival and all services associated with this flight, including refueling, refreshing supplies on the aircraft, maintenance checks and all passenger services.

TSA personnel across the country have worked closely with airports to ensure the utmost care when handling flights involving our troops and will continue to facilitate their movement to the greatest extent possible while ensuring a high level of security for all travelers.

In response to this note, the nice woman is invited to read my blog all the time.  I discuss things like satellite patrols, gated communities and biometrics, body armor, and Swarm Theory in Counterinsurgency.  I am sure that she didn’t just happen to be reading my blog.  She was performing damage control for the DHS, bless her heart.  There are plenty of reasons to detest TSA actions towards the military, but in this case, the TSA isn’t to blame, and this nice lady at the DHS can go about her duties, regretably never to visit my blog again.  But if not the TSA, who is to blame for this insulting debacle?

Mercury News of San Jose gives us a more detailed rundown of the official response to this incident from the Oakland Airport Authorities (the San Francisco Chronicle also has the story).

Oakland International Airport officials said Tuesday that security concerns about a charter plane ferrying military personnel from Iraq led them to direct the aircraft to a remote corner of the airfield, causing the troops to spend a two-hour layover on the tarmac.

The group of more than 200 troops, which reportedly included both U.S. Marines and Army soldiers, stopped in Oakland Sept. 27 during a trip from Iraq to Hawaii so the North American Airlines charter could be refueled, cleaned and restocked with food …

Airport authorities said they learned from Hilltop Aviation, which provides services to airlines on the ground, that the passengers had not been screened by the Transportation Security Administration at a previous stop in New York. Moreover, the authorities learned that there were weapons on the plane.

“Together with our security partners, the airport made a decision to park this aircraft at a remote location on the tarmac,” Deborah Alle-Flint, assistant director of aviation for the airport, said in a prepared statement.

Airport authorities did not know some passengers wanted to go to the main terminal to visit relatives because Hilltop did not say so, Barnes said. Had the airport authorities known, the troops could have been transferred to a terminal area where they would have remained separate from civilian passengers who had been screened.

This account it a lie, plain and simple.  They didn’t have “security concerns.”  The Oakland Airport Authorities know that the Marines are given a shake-down by customs officials more thorough than any given by the TSA, as pointed out by the nice lady at the Department of Homeland Security in her e-mail to me.  In fact, at the link above consider the comment left by Slab at Op-For:

[Customs] screens for contraband brought back from the CentCom theater. Of course, they are supposed to be screened even before leaving theater. We spent several hours being thoroughly screened at an airbase in Kuwait on this last trip back. I e-mailed the TSA a few months back after I noticed that the screeners were looking to confiscate automatic knives. They are prohibited under TSA regulations. However, Title 15 § 1244 says that members of the Armed Forces may carry automatic knives acting in the performance of their duties. I don’t know about you, but I think a combat deployment to Iraq might qualify as performance of my duty. Anyway, so far no response to my e-mail.

Very good, but I have one better.  Consider a Marine who has a multitool for working on his weapon to keep it in functioning order.  Since it has a blade as one of the tools, it is not allowed to be transported aboard one of the many commercial aircraft which carries tens of thousands of our troops to the theater.  It has to be packed in the luggage compartment.

As for the weapon, it has no ammunition.  The TSA knows this.  The Oakland Airport Authorities know this.  The Marines have their rifles because it would be blasphemous for it to be out of the armory but out of control of their person.  They could be stolen.  Moreover, the rifle creed of the Marine goes as follows:

This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.

My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.

My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will . . . .

My rifle and I know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit . .

My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strengths, its parts, its accessories, its sights, and its barrel. I will ever guard it against the ravages of weather and damage. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will . . .

Before God I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.

So be it, until victory is America’s and there is no enemy, but Peace!

Their may have been political concerns, but there were no security concerns.  To leave the aircraft on the tarmac in Oakland while letting the Marines deplane, but not with their families, is insulting and disengenuous.  The Marines aboard the aircraft were no threat to force the aircraft to fly into a building in New York City or Washington, D.C.  They were heros who had served their country well, only to return to their country to be denied entry because of the the authorities at the Oakland Airport.  The account by the Oakland Airport Authorities only increases their culpability for the things they said they thought but actually knew otherwise.  They are liars.

Oakland Airport is defamed and shown for what they are, the United States Marines are dishonored, and no amount of damage control can change reality.


  1. On October 4, 2007 at 10:20 am, fumento said:

    Actually, there is a close precedent for this — but it’s even more extreme perhaps. When I first embedded in Iraq in early 2005, the State Department was employing Ghurkas for its Green Zone security. (They later dropped them for cheaper South Americans.) I had never heard of Ghurkas working for anybody but the Brits, so I was quite taken aback. They had the reputation for being the nicest killers on the face of the planet and my conversations with them confirmed that. Once I teased one about why none of them carried their famous knives. As you know, a Ghurka without his knife is like a … well, make up your own metaphor but make it good. His English wasn’t terrific, but he made it clear it was the fault of the airline!

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