WACO, Texas – Local veteran George Tirado will soon be reunited with a pendant that holds the ashes of his best friend and fellow veteran.
A TSA agent confiscated the item at LaGuardia Airport because it was shaped like a bullet- but FOX 44 helped him get it back.
“Initially I was very angry,” Tirado said. “I’ve previously traveled with this item, and before the first time I traveled with it. I ensured that it was okay to bring.”
George Tirado was going through the TSA checkpoint at LaGuardia Airport to return from New York, when a TSA agent said he could not wear this bullet pendant- in the necklace are his friend Richard Martin ashes.
Tirado had two choices, put it in his checked luggage missing his flight or surrendering it to TSA.
“The only thing that allowed me maintain my composure was the thought of my wife and daughter waiting for me at the gate, because we were about to board our plane,” Tirado said.
Tirado says Martin was his mentor and even stood by his side as his best man on his wedding day.
“Sgt. Martin he played an extremely large role with my life,” Tirado said. “He was there for me both in my highest moments and my lowest moments, both in my professional career in the military and even in my personal life.”
He felt like he failed his friend and could not understand why TSA would take something so valuable from him- even after he explained what it was.
“I did not think I would get it back at all, especially after seeing that any prohibited or restricted items were not to be returned on their policies and guidelines,” Tirado said.
Tirado called FOX 44 news and we went to work to find a solution.
Our first call was to TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein for the New York area, she says people must put all real or realistic firearms or ammunition in a checked bag.
Once a prohibited item is surrendered it then becomes TSA property.
“It gets put into a lock box,” Farbstein said. “Every so often -everyday or every other day, somebody swings by all the checkpoints at that airport and collects those items.”
After she spoke to FOX 44 News, Farbstein made some calls of her own.
“We did ask the team at LaGuardia to go back and see if they can find it which they did pretty quickly!” Farbstein said.
Farbstein says in this very special instance they did make an exception because there was human remains in the replica bullet.
When Tirado found out it would be returned he had mixed emotions.
“My first and foremost priority was to retrieve that necklace back,” Tirado said. “The fire within my heart wants me to push even further, and push for a reform or some type of revision to their policy so that nobody has to endure this in the future.”
TSA is overnighting the pendant to him, and Tirado is looking forward to being reunited with his prized possession.
“I can’t begin to describe the extent of how much this item meant to me, I really appreciate it!” Tirado said.