The TSA Airport Security and Gen. Joe Foss

As OldNFO mentioned in his comment on the previous post, Joe Foss was stopped by the TSA airport security because he was carrying his Medal of Honor in his pocket when traveling.

On January 11th, 2002, Gen. Joseph J. Foss of Scottsdale, Arizona was attempting to board an America West flight bound for Arlington, Virginia, when airport security held him for 45 minutes while they debated what to do with a variety of suspect items he had about his person. The 86-year-old former governor of South Dakota was on his way to attend a National Rifle Association meeting and to speak to cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and he carried with him his Medal of Honor, as well as a Medal of Honor commemorative nail file and a dummy bullet which had been made into a key fob.
Each of these items was regarded as a potential security risk by airport personnel: the bullet for being a bullet, the nail file for being a nail file, and the Medal of Honor for being a suspicious five-pointed metal object that might have been a weapon.

This isn’t that surprising. It is, as Gen. Foss himself said, just sad. There was no one in the airport security detail that even knew what the Medal of Honor was.

Today’s quote comes from a time when there was an America that trusted her citizens to behave morally in a free society.

Joe Foss’s Medal of Honor Citation

For outstanding heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of a Marine Fighting Squadron, at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Engaging in almost daily combat with the enemy from October 9 to November 19, 1942, Captain Foss personally shot down twenty-three Japanese planes and damaged others so severely that their destruction was extremely probable. In addition, during this period, he successfully led a large number of escort missions, skillfully covering reconnaissance, bombing and photographic planes as well as surface craft. On January 15, 1943, he added three more enemy planes to his already brilliant successes for a record of aerial combat achievement unsurpassed in this war. Boldly searching out an approaching enemy force on January 25, Captain Foss led his eight F4F Marine Planes and four Army P-38s into action and, undaunted by tremendously superior numbers, intercepted and struck with such force that four Japanese fighters were shot down and the bombers were turned back without releasing a single bomb. His remarkable flying skill, inspiring leadership and indomitable fighting spirit were distinctive factors in the defense of strategic American positions on Guadalcanal.
–Franklin D. Roosevelt,
President of the United States

Update: Edited to correct my errors.


6 thoughts on “The TSA Airport Security and Gen. Joe Foss

  1. Bob here from the TSA Blog. This happened, but it happened before TSA had federalized airport checkpoints. Joe Foss is an American hero and I regret that this happened to him, but it wasn't by TSA officers.

    HH – Just wanted to let you know that a large number of our employees including myself are veterans.


    Blogger Bob
    TSA Blog Team

  2. As part of the Joe Foss Institute team, thanks for the mention in your recent post. I think everyone on the JFI team—and Joe himself, if he were still alive—would approve of your profile summary.

    If you would, please consider putting a permanent post to our blog on your blog roll… We are just beginning the process of blogging, and there are few posts there yet, but more will come.

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