Three Marines restrain unruly passenger on flight: ‘We are well trained … just assessed the situation and acted’

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Three Marines on a flight from Tokyo to Dallas became involved in assisting crew members who were attempting to deal with an unruly passenger who barricaded himself in a lavatory.

In an interview with Fox News host Sandra Smith on Friday, Capt. Daniel Kult said the trip began as a “routine flight back home to the States.”

Kult, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was joined on the flight by Marine Sgt. John Dietrick of Mechanicsville, Va. and Pfc. Alexander Meinhardt of Sparta, Wis.

All three are with the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force based at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

“The three of us were allowed to go home early from deployment for a myriad of reasons. We got approved to move during the military stop order,” Kult explained.

“And then, what started out as a normal flight, suddenly about halfway through turned into an interesting one where there was this individual who barricaded himself in the restroom, started yelling some alarming and threatening things, and then we eventually decided to step in and help the flight crew take care of the situation,” he continued.

The Marine officer noted that it took him and his travel mates a couple of moments to realize something was up because the were all watching a movie and wearing headphones.

“While watching a movie during my flight from Japan to Texas, I started to hear screaming coming from the restroom on board,” Dietrick, an infantry assault section leader, told WNCT. “When I took off my headphones, I heard a man sounding very distraught and screaming from the bathroom.”

“I knew I had to step in when he became a danger to others and himself,” added Meinhardt, a mortarman. “I didn’t think twice about helping restrain him through the rest of the flight.”

Once they understood that something was happening, the Marines formed up in what is known as a “tactical stack” near the door of the lavatory. He added that the flight attendant with some flexicuffs nearby knew “kind of what needs to happen next.” After the first set did not hold the Marines grabbed a second pair.

The trio then used duct tape to secure the unruly passenger to a chair until the plane could land at Los Angeles International Airport. There, he was remanded to authorities for a psychological evaluation.

“Did you ever see anything like this happening?” Smith asked Kult.

“No, absolutely not, especially just trying to go home,” Kult responded. “You’re on a flight, you know, just watching movies. You don’t expect to really have to be on alert. So, that was one thing I definitely never thought would happen to me, personally.

 

“I always see stories, you know, of service members doing some kind of act to help out, but I don’t think [any] of us really saw that coming at all,” he added.

 

The FBI in Los Angeles, along with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, is conducting an investigation.

The Marines’ battalion commander told WNCT he wouldn’t have expected any less from his men.

“Honestly, I’m not surprised,” said Lt. Col. Chris Niedziocha. “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.”

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Jon Dougherty

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