Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sky Marshal Story - Sky Marshal Reunion

Darrell Henderson of Class #19, who served as a Sky Marshal from March of 1971 to April of 1973, is exploring the idea of organizing a reunion of Customs Security Officers, Sky Marshals to us, sometime next fall (2010) or perhaps the following year. FYI -they call us Air Marshals these days.

Here is the text of an e-mail that he sent me:

"When I first began the search for former CSO's, I was thinking of a reunion in April 2011 or possibly December 2010. However, I am now thinking of having the reunion on Saturday, September 11, 2010. The reason for the Sept. date is that on September 11, 1970, President Nixon announced that he was instituting a program to counter the hijacking of American aircraft. Then on Sept. 12th, Treasury agents began flying. Some of these agent went on to become instructors at TASOS, where they trained CSO's.

In the search for former CSO's, I contacted the retired agents associations for Customs Special Agents, former narcotics agents, the Secret Service agents, and the Special Agents of the IRS. With the assistance of these organizations, I have been in contact with many former CSO's. However, I am still having a difficult time trying to contact former CSO's that became Customs Inspectors and Customs Patrol Officers. If any one has an idea as to how to contact these officers and those CSO's that went to other federal agencies or some other position outside of the government please let me know, or initiate the contacts yourself and have the individuals contact me so that they may be included in the desired reunion.

I would like to obtain some opinions as to where a reunion may be held. I had hoped to try and hold the reunion in San Diego on the USS Midway Museum, however, the up front costs are more than I can absorb on my own. I would like some suggestions as to a location that would be acceptable to everyone, without being overly expensive and still hold some interest to all of the attendees. Also, in an effort to limit the cost to each of us, does anyone have some ideas as to how we could solicit a sponsor or two that would help cover some of the upfront costs of putting on such an event? Also, should the group desire to hold the reunion in a city other than San Diego, I will have to have some assistance in finding the location and making the arrangements for the reunion. I could also use help even if the location is San Diego.

The original idea of the reunion as stated above is to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the inception of the CSO program. In an effort to possibly get as many persons to attend the reunion, would anyone have an objection to inviting members of the group of Treasury agents that were assigned to flight duty prior to the CSO's being selected, trained and placed in the field? How about the Customs Special Agents that acted as supervisors?

While researching the Internet, I have learned some interesting facts. I have also been in touch with a current ASAC of the Federal Air Marshal Service and he has provide additional information on the history of the sky marshal/air marshal programs over the years. The year 2010 is the 40th anniversary of the inception of the CSO program. May 2011 will be the 50th anniversary of an anti-hijacking program started by President Kennedy. I have also heard that some individuals employed by the FAA are putting together a 30 year reunion of a program they were involved with. The questions arises, would we consider participating in a combined reunion of two or more of these programs or do we want to restrict the invitees to only the CSO program?

I have been contacted by 35 individuals that are either former CSO's, Customs agents that were supervisors of CSO's, or Treasury agents that first flew after 9-11-70 and then taught the CSO's either at Ft. Belvoir or in DC. If the number of interested persons grow, would anyone be interested in having a golf tournament, a pistol shoot, or some other activity as part of the reunion package? If so, what other activities would you suggest?

Please provide your thoughts and opinions on all of the above discussed subjects and any other thoughts that would contribute to an exciting and enjoyable reunion.

I await to hear your ideas and suggestions. Again, thank you for your interest in this endeavor."

If you are interested in attending a reunion of Customs Security Officers, please contact Darrell directly at: wckdd@cox.net