It might not get the Clint Eastwood “veterans thwart terror attack on train” big screen treatment, but three Marines got some well-deserved attention Monday when an unruly passenger on their flight from Japan to Texas barricaded himself in the airplane’s lavatory and began making threats.
Capt. Daniel Kult, Sgt. John Dietrick, and Pfc. Alexander Meinhardt, all members of the Camp Lejeune-based 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, were returning from a deployment to Okinawa when the passenger locked himself in the head and began shouting.
“While watching a movie … I started to hear screaming coming from the restroom,” Dietrick, an infantry assault section leader, said in the release. “When I took off my headphones, I heard a man sounding very distraught and screaming from the bathroom.”
Had the Marines taken the Tom Arnold in “Austin Powers” approach, they may have just yelled from the other side of the door for the passenger to “Just grab ahold of something, bite your lip and give it hell. We’re gonna get through this.”
Not the trio’s style.
According to the official press release, the Marines “stacked up outside the lavatory and prepared to subdue the passenger while a flight attendant unlocked the door.” The fireteam-minus-one then proceeded to restrain the passenger with flex ties.
“I knew I had to step in when he became a danger to others and himself,” Meinhardt said in the release. “I didn’t think twice about helping restrain him through the rest of the flight.”
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The Marines reportedly secured the passenger “to a seat and continued to provide security for the remainder of the flight,” the release said.
“We are well trained and it paid off today,” Kult said. “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.”
Police from the Los Angeles Airport, where the flight was diverted due to the incident, commended the trio’s actions as a “great job.”
“Honestly, I’m not surprised,” Lt. Col. Chris Niedziocha, commander of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, said in the release.
“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 belligerent passenger was then transported to a local hospital for evaluation, the release said. The incident is under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California and the Los Angeles Federal Bureau of Investigation.
About J.D. Simkins
J.D. Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times who was a Marine scout observer from 2004-2008. He ugly cried when the Washington Capitals won the 2018 Stanley Cup.