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Wounded Purple Heart Marine flagged by TSA for 'too much metal' at California airport

A retired U.S. Marine severely injured in Iraq was subjected to extra scrutiny at a California airport and at the state capitol building for wearing "too much metal" -- an inspection that shocked his travel companion as well as bystanders, the MilitaryTimes.com reported.

Cpl. Nathan Kemnitz, who was gravely wounded in 2004 from a roadside bomb in Iraq, has limited use of his right arm and is incapable of lifting it above his head, according to the website.

During a recent trip to the state capitol building in Sacramento, Calif. -- where Kemnitz was being honored as his legislative district’s veteran of the year -- the retired Marine was reportedly asked to remove his dress shirt.

 He was also asked by TSA workers at Sacramento International Airport to lift his arms above his head during a full-body scan. Kemnitz could not comply with either request, telling Military Times, "My right arm doesn’t work. It’s a lot of hassle for me to do that."

Kemnitz's travel partner, Patricia Martin, was outraged following the incidents and wrote to Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki to express her anger.   

“What does a uniform and heroism represent if our own citizens — in this case employees of the TSA and security personnel — have no regard for them?” Martin reportedly wrote. 

"I feel so strongly that you need to know just how shamefully even a Purple Heart recipient/disabled veteran can be treated by some TSA and security employees," she said, according to the website.

TSA spokesman Ross Feinstein said in a statement Monday that "Our intent is to treat all injured service members and veterans with the dignity they deserve. As always, all passengers with disabilities and medical conditions are eligible for screening procedures sensitive to their particular disability, medical condition or other unique medical circumstance.

 “Transportation Security Officers have to resolve any anomaly detected at the checkpoint," Feinstein said. "As is standard procedure for all passengers, if travelers alarm when passing through a metal detector or an advanced imaging technology (AIT) unit, additional screening is required in order to resolve that anomaly."

"Wounded Warriors, members of the military and veterans are all required to place their carry-on items on the conveyor belt and in bins prior to passing through either a metal detector or AIT unit,” he said. 

The modified pat-down of Kemnitz at the airport lasted about six minutes. At no time did he complain or express any annoyance about the inspection, according to the TSA.  

Click for more on this story from the Military Times  

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