the Watergate political scandal was reaching epic proportions, on June
10, 1974, President Nixon embarked on a tour of the
to shore up his uncertain political status. TWA and PanAm provided
the press charters, but for reasons unknown, the White House insisted
that airline security personnel reinforce the security normally provided
on such press charters, namely the Secret Service and Military. .
PanAm designated their Director of Security to accompany the flight, and
TWA was required do the same -- Dick Bennett, Manager of Security at MKC
accompanied me. On board the press charters were such prominent
media people as Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Connie Chung, John
Chancellor and a host of others.
On the morning of June 10 at 8:30, our TWA flight departed Andrews Air
Force Base enroute to
where Nixon was to spend two days recovering from jet lag prior to
, the first leg of his six-nation trek.
On the morning of June 12, we were scheduled to depart from Salzberg
thirty minutes after the departure of PanAm which left precisely on
schedule. Our 707 was on the tarmac, engines starting with the
boarding steps in place, waiting for a last minute passenger --
Chancellor. Suddenly, a local taxi appeared on the tarmac, stopping
near the steps. Chancellor jumped out, baggage in hand, and said
something to the effect, "I need help!” Bennett and I heard his
plea, and ran down the steps, grabbed his baggage and rushed him onto
The entire aircraft was in a First Class configuration and we pushed him
into an aisle seat near the front. He heaved a big sigh of relief and
the first words out of his mouth were "I need a martini.”
His wish was granted forthwith, with much applause from the crew
and everyone else on the trip. But apparently neither of us two TWA
security honchos ever got appropriate “clearance” to learn the
reason for his near-desperate planeside arrival!
John Steele (1967-1987) served in a variety of TWA posts in NYC
and other stations involving corporate Security.
John Steele served as
TWA’s Director of Security at NYC for the period l967-l987.