Was it a humiliating experience or just standard airport security? A marine who lost both his legs to an explosive device undergoes security screening that some call excessive at Sky Harbor Airport.
That marine was here in Phoenix to be honored at a spring training game, but some who were traveling with him say there was no honor or respect when he was searched by airport security.
What happened made a California congressman so upset that he fired off an angry letter to the TSA about how humiliating it was for this marine to go through the screening process at Sky Harbor.
He survived an IED explosion, but lost both of his legs. According to Representative Duncan Hunter, this photo was snapped last week as this active-duty marine went through security at Sky Harbor.
According to Hunter, the marine, who hasn't been named, was humiliated as he was forced to remove his prosthetic legs and stand so agents could inspect his wheelchair for explosives.
He says the marine was ordered to go to one of two checkpoints and then was told moments later that he should have gone to the other checkpoint.
Hunter says a TSA officer asked the marine to stand and walk to an alternate area, despite the fact that he physically could not stand or walk on his own.
In a letter to the TSA, Duncan wrote, "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."
Passengers we talked to had mixed feelings about the incident.
"I just think that's just out of hand," says traveler Tim Compton.
"I know they must be under a super amount of pressure and are following certain regulations but you'd think there might be some humanity there for someone who's under those circumstances," says Tricia Lowe.
The TSA however tells a different story about what happened. A spokesperson says they reviewed video from Sky Harbor and "no prosthetic was removed. Screening was complete in less than 8 minutes and carried out by two military veterans."
And the TSA spokesperson also says they will be working to make the wounded warrior screening program a better overall experience. They plan to expand it to offer pre-check, or expedited screening to this group of veterans.
Statement by TSA spokesperson Nico Melendez
"We are doing our best to learn more about this situation. TSA works to facilitate the screening of injured and wounded service members with dignity and respect. Through its Wounded Warrior Screening program, TSA strives to make the overall experience for wounded service members as simple and trouble-free as possible. In the coming days, TSA will expand the Wounded Warriors Screening program to offer PreCheck, or expedited screening, to this group of veterans."
WHBQ-TV | Fox 13
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