Va. native, Marine praised for quick action in restraining hostile passenger on flight

Updated: May. 6, 2020 at 5:57 PM EDT
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LOS ANGELES, Ca. (WWBT) - A Marine and Mechanicsville native is getting praise for his quick action helping restrain a hostile passenger on a flight from Japan to Texas.

On Monday, U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant John Dietrick was roughly three-fourths of the way into his flight from Tokyo to Dallas when he said he and three other Marines had to subdue a man who was making threatening comments.

Dietrick said it is something he did not expect to deal with on his flight back from deployment in in Okinawa, Japan but is glad he was there to help.

“Unfortunately, things like this could happen to anyone in the air,” he added. “So, I guess it’s just always being ready to help whenever someone needs it.”

In a news release Tuesday, the Marine Corps said Capt. Daniel Kult, Sgt. John Dietrick, and Pfc. Alexander Meinhardt of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2d Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force were all involved in the incident.

This photo shows Capt. Daniel Kult, Sgt. John Dietrick and Pfc. Alexander Meinhardt of 1st...
This photo shows Capt. Daniel Kult, Sgt. John Dietrick and Pfc. Alexander Meinhardt of 1st Battalion, 6th Marines.(Source: United States Marine Corps)

Dietrick said he had just started his movie “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” when he hear a loud commotion coming from the airplane bathroom.

“The man, he was just screaming so fast and so loud that it didn’t really make any sense,” he said. “I think what tipped myself and the other Marines off was the volume and him being a little bit more aggressive in the bathroom.”

Dietrick said he and three other Marines got up and spoke with the flight attendant who provided them with restraints.

“I knew I had to step in when he became a danger to others and himself,” said Meinhardt, a mortarman from Sparta, Wisconsin.

“[The flight attendant] opened the door, my Captain went in and grabbed him,” Dietrick explained. “I grabbed his hands, put him to the ground, flexi-cuffed him, and then myself and the two other marines, we secured him to the first available chair.

That process took about two minutes, according to Dietrick.

The Marine currently stationed at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina credits his training in executing the take-down.

“Since boot camp it’s been engrained into us that we need to work as team,” Dietrick said. “So there’s no hesitation or moment of ‘are we going to do this?’ It was ‘this is what we’re going to do, this is how we’re going to do it’.”

“We are well trained and it paid off today,” said Kult, an infantry officer from Coon Rapids, Iowa. “We just assessed the situation and acted.”

However, the 2015 Atlee High School graduate does not consider himself a hometown hero, despite the bounty of thanks given on that flight.

“We’re grateful they said thank you but I think even if myself or the other Marines hadn’t been there they would have stepped up and done the right thing,” Dietrick said.

The flight was diverted to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) where the passenger was transported to a local hospital for a mental evaluation.

“Honestly, I’m not surprised,” said Lt. Col. Chris Niedziocha, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment. “I happen to know all three of them, two of them well, and they are all what I would call ‘men of action.’ I’m continually amazed by and grateful for the people we have in this battalion.”

The FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles are investigating the incident.

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