Authorities detained Johnny Knoxville on Thursday for allegedly bringing an inert grenade into Los Angeles International Airport. After security screeners spotted the grenade in the "Jackass" star's carry-on luggage, a bomb squad determined it lacked a firing pin or explosive. Police say Knoxville was later released and allowed to board an American Airlines flight to Miami.
This story sounds so familiar....
It was August 1985, and I'd just finished jump school at Fort Benning. A classmate and I rented a taxi and off we went to the Atlanta airport. In a taxi. The whole way.
But first we had to stop at Valhalla itself, Ranger Joe's surplus store.
We probably spent a half an hour in there. There were so many "toys" in there, so much to look at. One that caught my friend's eye was a bin of dummy hand grenades. A pineapple, a pin, and a handle--it's just that the pineapple was hollow, no explosive. "My younger brother would love these," he said. He bought two. He tossed them into his bag and on we went to the airport, quite a drive away.
We checked in and, since both of our flights were a couple hours distant, went and had a nice lunch (we cadets must have had a lot of money in those days). Well over an hour had passed since our arrival at the airport, and then it was time to go to our gate. We each put our carry-ons on the metal detector belt and started to go through. I don't know what triggered John's memory then, but simultaneously with his words I understood what was going on: "You know, we're all going to laugh about this in a few minutes."
I don't know where they came from--maybe Scotty beamed them down--but we were instantly surrounded by armed men, weapons drawn. Maybe the screeners saw the grenades on their x-ray screen, who knows. But there we were.
I don't recall if we were in uniform or not, but we were allowed to show them our ID cards--our rank was listed as CADETUSMA, which we had to explain due to a lack of a comma. John explained what we were, where we'd been, and that the grenades were dummies. By this time the tension had calmed enough that he was actually allowed to handle a grenade to show that they were, in fact, hollow.
"We can't let you take those on the plane."
"Why not? You can see they're hollow."
"Yes, but if you were to pull one out on the plane and threaten with it, no one else would know they were hollow."
"I guess that's true. Darn, I wanted to give these to my brother."
So you know what they did? They "unchecked" his suitcase, watched him unscrew the handles from the pineapples, and allowed him to transport the dummy hand grenades in his checked baggage. And everyone lived happily ever after.
Notice this was 16 years before 9/11. Things aren't handled with such common sense today.
Prosecutors will decide whether to charge the 38-year-old with bringing a prohibited item into a secure area of the airport, a misdemeanor.