Three U.S. Marines detained a hostile passenger who caused a disruption by making threatening comments during a flight from Japan to Texas, May 4, 2020.
Capt. Daniel Kult, Sgt. John Dietrick, and Pfc. Alexander Meinhardt of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, were traveling to the United States from a Unit Deployment Program (UDP) in Okinawa, Japan, on a flight from Tokyo, when a passenger barricaded himself inside the lavatory and made threatening comments.
“While watching a movie during my flight from Japan to Texas, I started to hear screaming coming from the restroom on board,” said 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.”
Acting quickly, the Marines stacked up outside the lavatory and prepared to subdue the passenger while a flight attendant unlocked the door. The Marines seized the passenger and restrained him with flex ties.
“I knew I had to step in when he became a danger to others and himself,” said Meinhardt, a mortarman from Sparta, Wisconsin. “I didn’t think twice about helping restrain him through the rest of the flight.”
The Marines secured the unruly passenger to a seat and continued to provide security for the remainder of the flight.
“We are well trained and it paid off today,” said 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 three Marines were on-board and able to restrain the unruly passenger,” a spokesperson from the Los Angeles Airport Police said. “Great job done by those Marines!”
The flight was diverted to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) where the passenger was transported to a local hospital for a mental evaluation.
“Honestly, I’m not surprised,” said Lt. Col. Chris Niedziocha, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “I happen to know all three of them, two of them well, and they are all what I would call ‘men of action.’ 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 incident is pending investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles.