Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Sky Marshal Story - Just the Facts, Ma'am - #33

Fans of Sky Marshal Story (all five of you) may enjoy hearing about a comment I received from “anonymous” who complimented my story telling but questioned my facts.

Specifically, Anonymous said that his research (personal experience or bar chat – he didn’t say which) indicated that it was U.S. Marshals who conducted the preflight passenger screenings back in 71-72 not Sky Marshals or what they call Air Marshals these days. So – ipso facto – my relating that I was part of the crew that conducted pre-flight screenings was untrue.

Wow! I guess that would make me a liar.

I suspect that Anonymous hadn’t read any of the blogs where I mentioned that the exploits I was relating were based on my actual, personal and real life experience, and that – except for the names of many of the individuals – everything described is true to the best of my memory. In point of…fact…the events I’ve related happened over 35 years ago and I don’t claim to have perfect recall. Furthermore, if I knew how to write fiction this would be a much more exciting blog – certainly there would be more sex and gun play.

I don’t know about all other U.S. Airports, but at SFO, where I was based, the Customs Security Officers in uniform conducted pre-flight passenger screenings the entire time that I was in the Customs Service. Initially, it was done with pat-downs and later with the first magnetometers when they showed up.

Anyway, just to assure any of you who might like to see evidence that I really was a Sky Marshal – a.k.a. United States Customs Security Officer – in 1971-72, here is an article that appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in – I believe – October of 1972. I was interviewed by the paper after I had given notice that I was leaving Federal law enforcement to work at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City. My departure also prompted a really ugly interview with a Bay Area TV station during which they tried to make it sound like I had been told to shoot stewardesses.

Oh, and by the way, when I was flying a Sky Marshal I also carried the credentials of a Special Deputy U.S. Marshal, an agent of the FAA and a piece of paper describing me as some sort of enforcer of the International Treaty prohibiting air piracy signed in Japan in 1970, all of which I mentioned in an earlier posting.

© Stephen Rustad, 2008

1 comment:

hughva said...

I also served as a Sky Marshall. I'm thinking it was the Spring of '71 to the Winter, but it's been a while.
I worked out of NY and Baltimore and mostly flew to Europe(Paris, London, Rome,) on TWA and did ground checks in Baltimore, where I lived at the time.
My favorite story was when the USNA midshioman tried to board with the dress sword he had just received at graduation. I told him he'd have to check it with the crew, who would carry it in the cockpit. Imagine my surprise when I was over ruled. "He's a midshipman, he's trustworthy." It wasn't him I was worried about.
That was a truly fucked-up program.