BY MALIA ZIMMERMAN – HONOLULU, HAWAII – Wade Hicks Jr., of Gulfport, Mississippi, spent four days in Hawaii, but he wasn’t in the islands since October 14 to enjoy sunshine, palm trees and paradise.
Half way through his journey from San Francisco to Japan aboard a military flight, during what was supposed to be a brief stop over on Oahu, a senior U.S. Customs and Border Enforcement agent, accompanied by two heavily armed military guards, informed Hicks he was on the “No Fly List.”
The agent told Hicks he would have to find other means of transportation off our remote Pacific island, which was 2,500 miles from where he started.
Hicks was stunned when he was ordered by the federal government not to board a commercial or military flight, and he began desperately looking for a way to travel back home via boat or private plane. Not wanting to borrow $40,000 to take a chartered flight home, or spend weeks traveling back to the Mainland by boat, he contacted local veterans’ organizations, Hawaii’s governor and legislators, his congressmen and the media for help.
After Hicks’ story went viral on the Internet, even landing in a Russian news report, Hicks received a call on Thursday, October 18, from a Customs agent telling him he was removed from the “No Fly list.” There was no apology and no explanation for why he was put on the list or why he was cleared to fly.
“I guess all the pressure from lawmakers, my congressmen and the media built up, and they had to back peddle and let me go,” Hicks told Hawaii Reporter on Thursday evening.
Hicks is a military dependent and he was on his way to visit his wife, a U.S. Navy lieutenant, stationed in Okinawa. On Friday, October 19, instead of going to Japan from Hawaii as originally planned, Hicks will fly back to California where his wife’s family lives. His wife, who he married just 8 months ago, will join him there on Saturday.
“There are civil unrest issues in Okinawa, so we decided it was best to head back to California,” Hicks said.
Hicks is a former military contractor who has had high level security clearances to work on research and surveillance vessels. He has an enhanced concealed carry permit allowing him to carry a firearm into government buildings in Mississippi. Last month, he went through an FBI background check to get that concealed carry permit. He has a TSA credential – called the Transportation Worker Identification Credential – issued to transportation workers to allow them to move more quickly through airport security. To board the military flight from Travis Air Force Base in San Francisco, he presented various identifications, a ticket and military clearance paperwork. But October 14, when he was grounded by Customs, none of those clearances mattered. When Hicks asked Customs if this could be a case of mistaken identity, the agent said no, confirming his date of birth, social security number and other personal information.
Hicks suspected his affiliation with many patriotic causes may 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 in a previous interview on October 17.
“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 helped Hicks get the connections he needed to get home.
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.
This is not the end of the saga – it is only the beginning, Hicks said today. He wants to take his story all the way to Capitol Hill to testify before Congress.
“I want to make sure this never happens again to a military dependent, spouse or U.S. citizen. I am lucky, because I had a lot of friends and connections to patriots to help me,” Hicks said.
He does not credit any one group for securing his release from what he deemed “captivity.” But he credits the media for taking his story public, and government officials for intervening on his behalf.
“I am very impressed with Hawaii and the caliber of people who helped me. While I was here, no doors were slammed in my face. Many people stepped forward to help me,” Hicks said.
“I know politics is a little different here in Hawaii than where i am from in Mississippi. This is a Blue State and I am from a Red State. But this is a non partisan issue. I appreciate that people here put their neck on the line and trusted me.”