Okinawa Marines leap into action aboard Pacific flight

4 Apr 2016 | Cpl. Daniel Jean-Paul 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

When Daniel Deamon, Staff Sgt. Timothy Bell, Gunnery Sgt. Paul Corner, Col. Lou Cala, Maj. Troy Cronbaugh, and Devery Grady woke up on March 26, they were expecting a run-of-the-mill flight back to their duty station. Little did they know, they would be called to duty a little bit earlier than they planned for.

Midway through a flight from Honolulu heading to Tokyo, Cronbaugh became aware of a disorderly, elderly passenger sitting a few seats from him. The passenger began to yell threats at the flight attendants, fellow passengers and even his wife.

According to Cronbaugh, he became aware of the situation after hearing yelling from the back of the plane. Cronbaugh quickly sprang in to action and rounded up a few the largest gentlemen he could find on the plane to offer their assistance to flight attendants.

According to Bell, the flight attendants attempted to defuse the situation themselves but immediately came to the conclusion that their efforts were futile.

"At first the flight attendants tried to calm the man down themselves," said Bell. "Once the man became increasingly aggressive, they came back to us and asked if we could apprehend him."

The flight attendants handed the Marines restraints for the passengers hands and feet and the Marines jumped into action. The unruly passenger peacefully allowed the restraints to be placed on his wrist but became enraged as the second set of restraints was placed on his feet.

According to Bell, despite the threats on his life and being spat on, he remained calmed.

"This wasn't the first time that someone threatened me," Bell joked. "But I remained calm. At that point we had to use a little more force but we did everything we could to not hurt him."

Once the man was full restrained and returned to his seat, the plane returned back to Honolulu, where the rowdy passenger was safely turned over to local law enforcement.

Authorities and flight crew thanked the Marines for their quick and effective reaction, with one sheriff praising the Marines ability to restrain the passenger without causing bodily harm.

"I was real proud of how the guys reacted," said Cronbaugh. “Luckily we were able to restrain the gentleman without anyone getting hurt.”