SAN DIEGO – Harbor police had a young military enlistee in custody within minutes of running onto the tarmac at San Diego Lindbergh Field early Thursday, authorities said.
“We were able to handcuff him and immediately we recognized that he was a Marine recruit,” said harbor police Lt. John Forsythe.
A 22-year-old recruit escaped the Marine Corps Recruit Depot, which is adjacent to San Diego’s airport, after four days of enlistment. He was caught on the tarmac near Gate 6 in Terminal 1 about 6:30 a.m. after jumping two razor-sharp fences.
The unidentified recruit was found in his boxer shorts, evidently removing his pants so they wouldn’t get snagged on the barbed wire fence, tripping the first of many security alarms.
Forsythe said the recruit was injured from the “jump to freedom.” He was taken to a local hospital to be treated.
Forsythe said this isn’t the first time police have responded to this type of incident.
“[Recruits] somehow thought if they could get in the terminal – which once you get on the airfield you can’t even get into the terminal without setting off a lot of alarms,” he said. “He hadn’t even got to the tough part yet. They see the airport as freedom on the other side and I don’t think they develop a plan.”
Forsythe served in the Marine before he became a police officer and knows firsthand what being a recruit is about.
“I don’t know what was in his mind, but some people don’t prepare for boot camp,” he said. “Boot camp is very tough on you physically and mentally. We used to get people running from there all the time.”
“In the 80s and 90s, we used to get them a lot,” said Forsythe adding, in years past a lot of recruits tried to jump the fence.
It’s unclear what he will face back at the base, but if prosecuted he could face misdemeanor trespassing and felony car theft.