Former Marine from Minnesota heartbroken after airport security confiscates keepsake jewelry

By TIM HARLOW | Minneapolis Star Tribune | Published: August 8, 2019

(Tribune News Service) — A former Marine from Eagan, Minn. is challenging the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), alleging that a supervisor unjustly confiscated a sentimental piece of jewelry and threw it in the trash.

Aaron Bradley, 43, was wearing a necklace with a small hollowed out cartridge with the U.S. Marines 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. But a supervisor told him the casing resembled a "simulator of some kind," he said, and ripped it off the chain and disposed of it.

"I don't even know what that means," said Bradley, who said the object poses 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. "It was 100% approved by the TSA. There is nothing that would warrant what happened. There needs to be repercussions."

TSA officials are looking into the incident, a spokeswoman for the agency 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, but she would not budge. He watched as she put it in a trash bin. He left the area to catch his American Airlines flight home, but returned to the screening area in a second attempt to recover the jewelry — and found somebody had already picked up the trash.

"She said, 'You can file complaint,' and she handed me a card," Bradley said. "She didn't care."

Bradley said he had spent three enjoyable days hanging out with his friends and visiting memorials of his fallen fellow Marines at Arlington National Cemetery. The incident at the airport won't change that, he said, but he is angry the TSA took away something he cherished.

"It was uncalled for," Bradley said. "The necklace was near and dear to my heart."

His girlfriend, Janelle Verke, said Bradley is contemplating consulting an attorney.

"We know it's gone forever," she said. "There needs to be accountability."

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