From the Soldier side: These days our Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is getting a lot of bashing. Usually, I try not feel negative about any government organization, but the TSA folks protecting our air traffic are pretty much ----. I don’t make conclusions like this based on media coverage etc, but from my own experiences. Since 9-11 I have had to travel by air many times in service or my country and sometimes for private reasons.
In the old days, soldiers, sailors, and Marines traveled by ship to get to other countries across the oceans.
Now in modern times, we travel by air, except for the sailors who actually have to get the ships to some far off land or drive around in the ocean. So, in all my years of military service, I have been to over 10 countries. I only got a passport recently, and I will likely never use it. You see, all those times I went to far off lands, I was under orders from the US Army. “I didn’t need no stinkin’ passport.”
Traveling on military aircraft is pretty simple. Get a rid to the airport, go where the Air Force, Army or Marine folks tell you and get on one of their wonderful air craft. They may put you on a C 17, or in the cargo hold of a tanker, a Blackhawk, CH 46/47, but they’ll get you there without hassle (maybe a few stray rounds from an AK 47). They really don’t even care what you bring with you as long as it’s secured and doesn’t start a fire. I’ve flown with M16,s, .45’s,9mm’s, packs of TNT, (the blasting caps were with another soldier)
But whenever I’ve had to fly private passenger jets since 9/11, I’ve been usually shocked and annoyed at the TSA re----. Where do they get such workers who have no friggen’ idea what they are doing?
In 2003 when my national guard group had to fly to Minnesota (pronounced Men-Ah-So Tah) to train with the Minnesota guard before Bosnia. The RED BULLS. All of us from California met up in Northern California and we all had to go to the San Francisco air port. (one of the least military friendly airports in the world, and least gun friendly). We were all traveling in civilian clothes, but we all had the big green Army duffle bags. We all checked in with our Army ID cards, and showed our orders. Our leader explained that we had all been activated and had to travel for training.
Then the stupidity started. The TSA dummies decided that we all might be terrorist and started to dump out our duffle bags. For those who’ve served, you know your duffle bag (Sea Bag for Sailors and Marines) is never big enough, we all learn how to cramp and pack 100 pounds of shit into a 50 pound bag. It takes a lot of shaking, stomping, and muscle---usually requiring two or three to help one load their gear. But we get it in.
So, these TSA guys at the San Francisco Air Port want to dump all our gear out. It’s all green. Mine does show traces of explosives from past training missions. I told the guy that it would show traces…but he had to look. And dump. No explosives. I think it was the very first time they got a positive reading for explosives and they freaked out. I was a friggen’ combat engineer for 12 years, we carried explosives all the time. Sorry, I didn’t wash my gear very well.
So the “big dump” happened. When they got to the Protective Mask (gas mask) they were really freaked out…then they got to all the little army toys that they could not identify….no weapons, just stuff….like camo paint for your face.
Even when we told them multiple times that we were all in the fucking army and traveling on orders to go train to fight fucking terrorist…we were not the terrorist…they continued to fuck with us.
Flying back from Minnesota weeks later was no problem. “Oh, you’re on orders? Have a nice flight.”
Then when we were flying to Bosnia in 2003...we flew on a chartered private jet. Since it was under FAA rules, we had to follow all FAA laws. Now get this.... we were in uniform. We had the entire aircraft. We were traveling with military weapons. M-16s, M-249's, I had an M-9 pistol. But, before we could get on the plane, we had to make sure we had no pocket knives or cigarette lighters.
Wow. I told the person telling this: “what about guns?”
Well, being that we were all good soldiers and followed orders. We dumped all our knives, nail clippers, matches, cigarette lighters etc into a big box.
Flying home from Iraq in 2005, we had to land in San Francisco. They made us wait on the plane and de=plane on the flight line. I guess they didn’t want us walking through the airport in our nasty Desert Battle Dress Uniforms.
A few years ago I flew to Texas with a few pistols. As per FAA regulations and the air carrier I flew on, I “declared I have two firearms” to put in the hold. Again this was at the wonderful San Francisco airport. The airline clerk looked like she was going to faint. I tried to help her feel better by telling her I was a police officer and showing my badge. She escorted me over to a special TSA office and told the TSA dude I had firearms to check in so he could “inspect them.”
I had a Glock and a Beretta. Two very common pistols. He opened my case and pulled out the Glock…staring at it like he’d never seen a gun before. He proceeded to point it at his own face, at me, then at the clerk….all before he pulled back the slide to make sure there was no round in the chamber. That was scary. Then he did the same thing with the Beretta. When I said: “Hey, I know they’re not loaded, but that not cool to point them at people.”
Oh, you should have seen the look he gave me. Like I was calling him a fucking retard or something.
My guns and I made our flight. When I flew out of Texas, I told the airline clerk that I had two unloaded pistols to check in. The clerk said: “That’s nice” and threw them on the conveyor belt to go on the plane…. No TSA retarded inspection.
My next adventure by air took me to another gun friendly state. I knew since I was leaving San Francisco, I should get there early. This time TSA didn’t even look at my guns, but there the entire bag into an X-ray machine. I asked the TSA guy: “well, do they look like guns?” He couldn’t tell anything else about their condition…I’m not really sure what the heck he thought the X-ray machine was going to do.
When I flew back, I told the clerk where I was leaving that I had firearms to declare. She asked if they were unloaded and threw them on the conveyor belt. No hassles.
You know, maybe it’s not TSA. Maybe it’s San Francisco? Perhaps I should leave this state when I retire.