Disabled Marine 'Humiliated' by TSA, Calif. Congressman Complains

Tuesday, 19 Mar 2013 02:41 PM

By Michael Mullins

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A wheelchair-bound active duty Marine was reportedly humiliated by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents on March 13 at a Phoenix airport when officials told him to stand and walk to another area, despite that he was unable to do it.

The unnamed Marine, who lost both his legs to an Improvised Explosive Device (IED), said the incident occurred at the Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.

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The Marine's escort at the airport reportedly asked which of the two checkpoints the Marine should go through, considering his condition. The agent reportedly told him, "either one."

The Marine was wheeled to one of the two TSA checkpoints only to be told that he should have "entered a different way," and that he had to "stand and walk to an alternate area, despite the fact that he physically could not stand or walk on his own," witnesses said.

When California Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Marine veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, caught wind of the situation, wrote a letter to John Pistole, the administrator of TSA.

"With numerous TSA officers sitting and unwilling to assist, an officer then made him remove his legs, then put them back on, only to advance to a secondary screening location where he was asked again to stand, with extraordinary difficulty, while his wheelchair was examined for explosives," Hunter, a Republican, wrote.

Hunter questioned the screening process for wheelchair-bound individuals, asking if officials were allowed to use discretion in cases such as the Marine's, the Daily Caller reported.

"While I recognize the necessity to appropriately screen passengers, I am concerned by the apparent lack of situational awareness and respect among TSA officers — specifically when it comes to the treatment of war wounded. I am hopeful you will give this situation the attention it deserves," Hunter wrote.

The Marine was part of a group who was returning to San Diego, Calif. from Phoenix, Ariz.

This isn't the first time a wheelchair-bound Marine reported feeling embarrassed at a U.S. airport.

In December, a Delta Airlines crew’s rough treatment of a double-amputee Marine combat veteran left him in tears and enraged fellow passengers.

Delta spokesman Michael R. Thomas apologized for the incident and said the airline was investigating the matter.

"The story in no way reflects either Delta’s standard operating procedure or the very high regard we hold for our nation’s service members," Thomas said in a statement.

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