BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – Wade Hicks Jr. drove from his home in Gulfport, Mississippi, to the Travis Air Force Base in San Francisco earlier this week to catch a military flight to Japan.
A 34-year old newlywed, he was thrilled because he was on his way to see his wife, a U.S. Navy lieutenant stationed in Okinawa, who he married 8 months before.
But when Hicks got off of the plane on October 14 in Hawaii to allow the aircraft to be cleaned, maintained and refueled, his journey took a surprising turn.
Hicks wasn’t met with flower leis, hula dancers or the Aloha Spirit Hawaii is so well known for – instead two heavily armed military guards detained him for an hour without telling him why and then escorted him to a senior agent with U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement.
The agent told Hicks some surprising news – he was on the “No Fly list” and would not be allowed to re-board the military plane to go to see his wife in Japan, even though the military had cleared him to travel and despite the fact he’d already passed through a TSA inspection in California and flown to Hawaii.
She kept asking how he got on the military plane, as if accusing him of sneaking on, even though the military had cleared him; he had all of his identification, military paperwork and a ticket; and he went through military and TSA screening procedures before leaving California. Hicks asked if this could be a case of mistaken identity, but the agent confirmed his date of birth, social security number and other personal information.
The agent dismissed Hicks’ Transportation Worker Identification Credential, a document issued by the TSA for transportation workers, and she did not care about his professional background that allowed him high-level clearance on research and surveillance vessels. It also did not matter that just last month, Hicks renewed his concealed carry permit in Mississippi and was screened by the FBI, and was subsequently granted the right to carry a concealed firearm in government buildings.
Even worse, the Customs agent told him he would not be allowed to board a commercial flight back to Mississippi. Stuck in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, more than 2,500 miles from where his journey started, Hicks was told he would have to find an alternative means of transportation back to the mainland United States.
So what could possibly get this military dependent, who is involved with many patriotic causes, and is a volunteer firefighter in his spare time, on the United States government’s “No Fly List”?
Hicks said he believes his political activities could have made him a target with the current federal administration.
Hicks is an organizer for tea party activities in Mississippi. He has spoken out about the importance of the U.S. Constitution, and complained about high taxes and government mandates at political rallies and on a radio show he hosted called “Free Speech Zone.”
He’s expressed his concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the 9-11 attack on America and said publicly he believes there is much more to the story than the official version Americans are being told.
And he is a vocal critic of the National Defense Authorization Act.
“I have no criminal record and no warrants out against me. I am not a violent person and have not made threats against anyone. The only thing I can think of was that I was detained because my political views and activities,” Hicks told Hawaii Reporter today.
“I was very vocal about the National Defense Authorization Act and I did contact my congressional representative about my concerns,” he said.
“I, like many architects and engineers, believe the official version of 9-11 warrants more investigation,” he added.
Calvin Griffin – a Hawaii radio talk show host and military veteran who produces a regular show on military issues called Hawaii Bulletin Board Radio and Television and runs the web site http://www.Broadcast50.com – was on the plane traveling to Hawaii with Hicks.
Griffin said he and other passengers went through extensive screening ahead of time, including registering, and presenting identification cards, travel documents, and orders, as well as a physical security check. He said Hicks showed him the special orders he had been issued allowing him to fly to Japan. Griffin subsequently had Hicks as a guest on his radio program to talk about his ordeal.
Hicks is looking for a way to get home on a private plane, sail boat or cruise ship, but he does not want to go into debt just to get back to the continental U.S.
Chartered planes from the islands can cost as much as $40,000. He is trying to manage without access to any form of electronic communication except his cell phone.
He has sought help from Hawaii legislators and the governor’s office as well as from his congressmembers.
Douglas J. Hagmann, who wrote about Hicks being stranded in Hawaii on his web site, Homelandsecurityus.com, said: “If all of the facts presently known withstand more intense scrutiny and further investigation, we have a very big problem in this country.”
“You might be next, and Hawaii might not be where you are inexplicably left on your own,” Hagmann said.
Hagmann, like other media across the country, are now following the fate of Hicks in hopes of logical explanation and a happy ending. But Hagmann said he is skeptical that there will be either.