I was detained at the border…

…on my way into America… twice!

If you happened to read my DMV adventures and the issues I had considering my common name, you are going to love this one…

The entire family went up to Niagara Falls this past weekend for an Irish Dance competition for my daughter, and we stayed on the Canadian side. Getting into Canada was easy, a few questions, and we were on our way to the hotel. We had a nice meal and hit the hotel to rest up for the competition in New York, just over the border, the next day.

We planned ahead, got up early to allow time for traffic going south through the border crossing, and got there in a few minutes. We were relieved to see there was only one car ahead of us so we figured we would have lots of time to eat breakfast before the competition. We figured wrong.

I passed the passports to the officer and he began his review. Before I knew it, he asked me to turn off the car, hand him the keys, and then had my wife and I place our hands on the dashboard. Before I could really figure out what was going on, there were somewhere between 6 and 10 officers surrounding the vehicle, asking me to step out and follow them. I saw one of them read my retired Navy license plate and he had this kind of, ‘are we sure about this’ look on his face.

The officer who read the plate asked me questions about what I did in the Navy as we walked into the building. It reminded me of the ‘baseball questions’ they asked potential Communists back in the 50s and I was trying to figure out if I was being tested.

It was soon revealed to me that a Mike Ward from Oregon who is considered armed and dangerous is at large, and of course, they were not taking any chances. Having been through this kind of thing before, I tried to make the best of it. My family joined me in the room where we were surrounded by people from many other countries (not America), very few of which spoke any English. It was kind of a surreal event.

They cleared it up in about 20 minutes, apologized and said they were doing their job. I told them I understood, that it had happened before, at the DMV and one other time in a passport check, and then I told them that I was crossing again on Monday and asked what I could do to prevent the same thing from happening again. They said there was one thing they could do, but it probably wouldn’t be in effect by Monday, and that I should just tell them I was pulled aside on a false positive on an A&D (armed and dangerous) and see if it would help. It didn’t.

Monday came, and we repeated Saturdays schedule. This time two cars were ahead of us. We waited, pulled up, I passed him the passports, told the man what they told me to tell them, and within a minute, there were at least 6 officers headed towards my car. I heard the guy in the booth say, its OK to the approaching officers.

They had me pull over to another area, and go into a different building. The officer reviewed  the passports again and then said they would add me to the system to help prevent this from happening again. The weird thing is, I was fingerprinted, had pics taken, height, weight, and hair and eye color recorded, and had it all added to the system. It was odd that I was treated more like a criminal than an innocent civilian, and it bothered me a little that I needed to be treated that way to prove I am not the guy they were looking. And after all that, the officer could not guarantee it would not happen again. 45 minutes later, we were on our way again.

The thing is, we will probably go back again next year. They didn’t arrest me, Hannah did well in the competition, and the rest of the trip was pretty good. I guess I just have to get used to this ‘guilty until proven innocent’ world.

Editors Note: Today I got this email from an old Navy buddy who wanted to make sure the subject of the article was not me. And the headline read: “Navy Cmdr. Michael Ward II Faked Death to End Affair“. No JJ, it isn’t me, but thanks for checking in.  😉



A great email in broken English….

If any of you have gone through the public photos on my site, you may have stumbled across the pictures of the World’s Best Chicken, a little roasted chicken place in Castelvolturno, Italy (near Naples).

Well today, I got an email from Giuseppe (Peppe) who owns the restaurant that had just a few words in broken English:

“Hallo Mike,
I have see photo my pizzeria, are beautyfull. Many tank. If you want you can see my site in the web. The andress is: www.ristopizzadomizia.it

I had many great meals in his restaurant on my trips to Naples and will always remember him, Mauritio (his maitre de/waiter) and the food. Lots of great memories with wonderful people. His email was a pleasant reminder of the good times.

Grazie Peppe! You made my day!

Danger in the skies…

I didn’t make this up 🙂

Flatulence Forces Plane to Land

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It is considered polite to light a match after passing gas. Not while on a plane.

An American Airlines flight was forced to make an emergency landing Monday morning after a passenger lit a match to disguise the scent of flatulence, authorities said.

The Dallas-bound flight was diverted to Nashville after several passengers reported smelling burning sulfur from the matches, said Lynne Lowrance, spokeswoman for the Nashville International Airport Authority. All 99 passengers and five crew members were taken off and screened while the plane was searched and luggage was screened.

The FBI questioned a passenger who admitted she struck the matches in an attempt to conceal a “body odor,” Lowrance said. She had an unspecified medical condition, authorities said.

“It’s humorous in a way but you feel sorry for the individual, as well,” she said. “It’s unusual that someone would go to those measures to cover it up.”

The flight took off again, but the woman was not allowed back on the plane. The woman, who was not identified, was not charged in the incident.

Guidare en Napoli, Uno Cento Uno

Or, Naples Driving 101, at least I think that is what that means. That is what I meant when I typed it.

“Cars in Naples are either dented, dinged, scraped or are potentially one of those.” J.J. O’Connor Read more

Triple crossing…

On my website’s About page, I have the following;

“I have crossed beneath the Atlantic Ocean in a submarine, crossed over its surface on a ship and flew over it in an airplane. I have never met anyone else who has done all three.”

Read more

The Green and Red of Mayo

The Green and Red of Mayo movie was made from pictures I took in Ireland in September of 2001. My wife, 3 children, my Mum and my inlaws all returned from the trip late in the evening on September 10th. The next day, everything changed and I made this movie in an effort to both remember and forget. Read more

New Friends and Chinese Food

I love to travel, and because of the Navy I have had plenty of opportunity. The one thing I dislike about travel is traveling alone, which is another thing I have plenty of opportunity to do. During the work day it’s not so bad, but going out to eat and sightseeing is just depressing if you do it alone, Read more