GULFPORT, Miss. >> A Mississippi man stranded in the Hawaiian islands after being told he was on the FBI’s no-fly list has returned to California.
The Sun-Herald reports that Wade E. Hicks Jr., of Gulfport, was cleared to board and reached an air base near San Francisco on a military airplane.
After his plane touched down Friday evening, he said he felt “great.”
Hicks, 34, was traveling to visit his wife, a U.S. Navy lieutenant stationed on Okinawa. He hitched a ride on a scheduled military flight, as military dependents are allowed to do when there’s room.
During a layover at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent told Hicks he was on the no-fly list and couldn’t continue.
Hicks was stuck for six days at his own expense, unable to board either commercial or military planes. He still wants to know what happened and why, and he wants to recoup his expenses from the government. He has filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act for answers from the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.
“They have not apologized nor given me any reason,” Hicks said.
Hicks, a former volunteer firefighter in Hancock County, suspects he was placed on the list because of his outspoken views.
Hicks has worked for a military contractor and said he has had high-level security clearances. He said he has an enhanced permit to carry a concealed weapon and cleared an FBI background check on the firearm permit last month.
Representatives for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and U.S. Rep Steven Palazzo, both Mississippi Republicans, said they had been in contact with Hicks and federal authorities. Both offices said they had responded to Hicks’ concerns, but could not comment on a constituent’s private matters.
The episode raised questions beyond how Hicks landed on the list: How could someone on a list intelligence officials use to inform counterterrorism investigations successfully fly standby on an Air Force flight?
Federal authorities have declined to comment. The government doesn’t disclose who’s on the list or why someone might have been placed on it.
The list of roughly 20,000 people and about 500 to 600 Americans includes names and classified evidence against suspected terrorists who are not allowed to fly in U.S. airspace.
The list can be updated within minutes, so it’s possible Hicks was added to the list while in midair from Travis Air Force Base in California to Hawaii.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s office said passengers who fly standby on military flights are screened against the FBI’s list only on international flights. Domestic passengers are screened only through an internal military system, not the Advanced Passenger Information System run by Customs and Border Protection.