DALLAS, Texas — Three U.S. Marines detained a hostile passenger who made threatening comments during a flight from Tokyo, Japan, to the Dallas Fort-Worth International Airport in north Texas.
During the May 4, 2020, flight, according to a press release from the U.S. Marine Corps, the passenger barricaded himself inside a lavatory and began making threatening comments.
U.S. Marines Capt. Daniel Kult, Sgt. John Dietrick, and Pfc. Alexander Meinhardt of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were on that flight — traveling to the United States from a Unit Deployment Program (UDP) in Okinawa, Japan.
“While watching a movie during my flight from Japan to Texas, I started to hear screaming coming from the restroom on board,” stated Dietrick, an infantry assault section leader from Mechanicsville, Virginia. “When I took off my headphones, I heard a man sounding very distraught and screaming from the bathroom.”
The Marines stacked up outside the lavatory while a flight attendant unlocked the door, rushed in, and subdued the passenger — later restraining him with flex ties. The passenger, who was not identified in the release, was secured to a seat where the Marines provided security for the remainder of the flight.
“I knew I had to step in when he became a danger to others and himself,” stated Meinhardt, a mortarman from Sparta, Wisconsin. “I didn’t think twice about helping restrain him through the rest of the flight.”
“We are well trained and it paid off today,” stated Kult, an infantry officer from Coon Rapids, Iowa. “We just assessed the situation and acted. Working with the flight crew, we got the door open and from there worked together to subdue him. We didn’t take time to talk it over. We just got ready and did what we needed to help.”
The flight was diverted to the Los Angeles International Airport where the passenger was further transported to a local hospital for a mental evaluation.
“The three Marines were on-board and able to restrain the unruly passenger,” a spokesperson from the Los Angeles Airport Police told U.S. Marine Corps 2nd Lt. Kayla Olsen, who first reported on the story via the U.S. Military's newswire service. “Great job done by those Marines!”
Lt. Col. Chris Niedziocha, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, said he wasn't surprised by the Marines' actions.
“I happen to know all three of them, two of them well, and they are all what I would call ‘men of action,'" he said. "I’m continually amazed by and grateful for the people we have in this battalion.”
The Marines had been about half-way through an approximately six-month deployment, as part of the Unit Deployment Program at Camp Schwab, Okinawa, Japan, when for differing reasons each was cleared, via a combatant commander-endorsed exemption-to-policy waiver, for essential travel back to the United States.
The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Central District of California and the Los Angeles bureau of the Federal Bureau of Investigations are investigating the incident.