A former Marine from Eagan who figured that a sentimental piece of jewelry confiscated by the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) was gone forever got good news Thursday: It’s being sent back to him.
Aaron Bradley, 43, was wearing the necklace featuring a hollow cartridge with a U.S. Marine emblem etched on the outside and a love letter from his girlfriend tucked inside when he passed through security Monday morning at Washington D.C.’s Reagan National Airport.
A TSA supervisor there told him the casing resembled a “simulator of some kind,” he said, and ripped it off the chain and disposed of it.
The incident caught Bradley off guard, and he thought it had been tossed in the trash.
“It was 100 percent approved by the TSA,” Bradley said Wednesday, explaining his confusion and noting that the object posed no danger and was not questioned by TSA personnel in Minneapolis when flew to Washington, D.C., a few days earlier to attend a reunion of Marines he served with in Iraq and Afghanistan. “There is nothing that would warrant what happened.”
Sort of. The TSA website describing what passengers can and can’t bring through security checkpoints says, “Empty shell casings are allowed in carry-on bag as long as the projectile is no longer intact. They are allowed only if the primer has been removed or has been discharged.”
In general, real or replica ammunition is not permitted past checkpoints, said Lauren Sundquist, a TSA spokeswoman.
“An item of this nature is up to the discretion of the TSA officer,” she said.
Bradley’s necklace had two other objects on it: a pendant with his late grandfather’s fingerprints and a cross he wore through the wars. He was allowed to keep those, but not the engraved cartridge, which Bradley’s girlfriend had given him as Christmas gift last year.
A heartbroken Bradley said he pleaded with the supervisor to return the item and he watched as she put it in a bin, which he thought was trash. When he asked again for her to return it, she didn’t budge.
Turns out, it wasn’t tossed in the trash, but a “prohibited items bin” at the checkpoint.
TSA officials looked in the bin, found the casing and made arrangements for it to be returned to Bradley, Sundquist said.
Bradley, who had contacted the Star Tribune about the confiscated item, said Thursday that he had learned a lesson about wearing the necklace with the hollow cartridge through security.
“I’m a very happy man, but I’m still angry at how I was treated,” Bradley said.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768