News 10: ACRAMENTO, CA – A Marine Corps veteran who lost partial use of his right arm in a roadside bombing says he was humiliated by a State Capitol security screener who asked him twice to remove his uniform jacket. Nathan Kemnitz, 29, who retired as a decorated corporal following the 2004 bombing in Iraq, was wearing his dress blue Marine uniform on his way to be honored as a Veteran of the Year by the State Assembly on June 26. “(The screener) kind of looked around on me and said, ‘Whoa. There’s a lot of metal on you,'” Kemnitz recalled. He said the screener was insistent about him taking off the jacket. “Even getting into that uniform, sombody had to help me,” Kemnitz said. “Definitely with one (arm) I could not do it myself.”
Kemnitz said following a heated discussion involving his traveling companion, a second screener quickly pulled him aside and cleared him with a hand wand. Capitol security checkpoints are run by the State Senate Sergeant-at-Arms. Spokesman Mark Hedlund said security video shows the entire interaction took one minute and 20 seconds. Hedlund said the Sergeant-at-Arms is still reviewing the incident, but that the video doesn’t show any improper treatment.
“We have the utmost respect for our veterans,” Hedlund said. “But people who come to the Capitol, just like when you go the courts or get on an airplane, we have to go through the screening.” Assem. Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, who sponsored Kemnitz as his district’s Veteran of the Year, said he was “disappointed” by the humiliation Kemnitz felt at the security checkpoint.
“This was a very unfortunate incident that happened on a day when the California Assembly was honoring a true hero,” Holden wrote in an email to News10. Kemnitz said he understands the need for security, but would appreciate a little more compassion. “You could almost say the terrorists won because now we’re searching our own men and women in uniform,” he said.