Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I first saw this story several years ago, when I was still on active duty. I like to think it's true - Snopes has nothing on it. - S.L.

"Too old to fight, too slow to run but I can still shoot pretty damn good!"

Retired Marine and former Pan Am/Delta Pilot John Lovell is Top Gun at Subway Sandwich Shop Plantation, Florida:

Last week police were called to investigate an attempted armed robbery: The 71-year-old retired Marine who opened fire on two robbers at a Plantation, Florida, Subway shop late Wednesday, killing one and critically wounding the other, is described as John Lovell, a former helicopter pilot for two presidents. He doesn't drink, he doesn't smoke, and he works out every day. Mr. Lovell was a man of action Wednesday night.

According to Plantation police, two masked gunmen came into the Subway at 1949 N. Pine Rd. just after 11 p.m. There was a lone diner, Mr. Lovell, who was finishing his meal. After robbing the cashier, the two men attempted to shove Mr. Lovell into a bathroom and rob him as well. They got his money, but then Mr. Lovell pulled his handgun and opened fire. He shot one of the thieves in the head and chest and the other in the head.

When police arrived, they found one of the men in the shop, K-9 Units found the other in the bushes of a nearby business. They also found cash strewn around the front of the sandwich shop according to Detective Robert Rettig of the Plantation Police Department.

Both men were taken to the Broward General Medical Center, where one, Donicio Arrindell, 22, of North Lauderdale died. The other, 21-year-old Frederick Gadson of Fort Lauderdale is in critical but stable condition.

Mr. Lovell was a pilot in the Marine Corps, flying former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He later worked as a pilot for Pan Am and Delta Airlines.

He is not expected to be charged authorities said. "He was in fear for his life," Detective Rettig said, "These criminals ought to realize that most men in their 70's have military backgrounds and aren't intimidated by idiots."

Something tells me this old Marine wasn't "in fear for his life", even though his life was definitely at risk. The only thing he could be charged with is participating in an unfair fight. One 71- year young Marine against two punks. Two head shots and one center body mass shot.

Outstanding shooting! That'll teach them not to get between a Marine and his meal.

Florida law allows eligible citizens to carry a concealed weapon. Don't you just love a story with a happy ending?

* * *

I carry a .45 everywhere I go in the United States - the only trouble I ever had was with a Pennsylvania State Trooper who explained to me that A) my weapon was not registered and B) that the weapon associated with my concealed carry permit had to be registered.

At this point I should probably point out that at the time I was sitting on a bench in the cop shop with my arms behind my back because I was wearing the bracelets (pulled over for suspected DUI - things got REAL interesting when they found my M1911 locked-and-cocked so of course I get hauled down to the station to blow into the machine).

I said A) I should hope it's not registered, although you've probably gone ahead logged into some kind of nation-wide registry thanks very much and B) what, are you making the law up as you go along?

I told him that there is NO requirement for weapons registration in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

He says, "Yes there is."

I said, "No there isn't." You gotta understand - State Troopers are NOT accustomed to being spoken to this way. I was courteous, I was professional, and as soon as I figured a way to get those handcuffs off I had a plan to do a Rambo on that place, should the occasion warrant it.

The State Trooper is looking at me from behind his desk computer - big ol' nineteen nineties cathode ray tube computer monitor - with this fucked up look on his face, when all of a sudden his partner walks in the room and says, "HE'S RIGHT!!!"

A third guy comes up and says he's going to put some ankle manacles on me, to give me some relief from the handcuffs. When he finished putting on the manacles I hand him over the handcuffs and he looks at me all fucked up, "How'd you do that???"

I say, "Don't worry about it - you got me in manacles - it's not as if I can run for it or anything."

So we transition to the breathalizer station. I know I'm OK because I know how much I drank, etc. So after I blow .02 two times in a row, the cop responsible for running the breathalizer machine asks me, "Do you know what the legal limit is in Pennsylvania?" Like, what? First you didn't know the gun laws, now you don't know the legal limit?

I say, "Sure. It's .08 - it should be .05"

Breathalizer Boy says, "You're .02"

I say, "I know; I can read gauges. Can we . . . uh . . . remove the hardware now?"

Breathalizer Boy; "Well . . . uh . . . I dunno about that."

Me: "I think the magic words are: CAN I GO NOW?"

Those ARE the magic words - they can't hold you any longer if they don't have a reason - so Breathalizer Boy looks over to Desk Sgt, and Desk Sgt gives him the nod, so he kneels down to unfasten my leg irons and he can't get the fucking key to unlock the shackles because he's shaking like a leaf and he's looking up at me while he's trying to unlock the things. I tell him, "Relax - I'm not going to do anything; there's three of you and you're all armed, and my gun is over there and it's unloaded."

He finally gets the things off of me and he gets up and says, "So you were Special Forces, huh?"

"How on Earth did you know that???"

"Your lapel pin."

I was wearing a suit, and I had minature regimental crest on my lapel. "Yeah, I'm that."

So then it's "I was in the Navy. So what's it like in SF???" Like, a minute ago I was in leg irons being treated like the scum of the earth, and now that I'm free to move about the room it's Old Home Week and 'What's it like on the Teams? slobber! slobber!'.

"Well what I CAN tell you is that my worst day in Special Forces is better than your best day in the Navy, or the State Troopies even for that matter."

The guy grumbled and shuffled off. I looked over to the desk sergeant, "Can I have my pea shooter now?" He grumbled too, but he gave it to me - that surprised me because they could have been real assholes and hung on to it. I told him as a courtesy I wouldn't load it until after I left the station, and he grumbled an acknowledgment.

They got their ounce of blood out of me, though - or so they thought: a week later a letter came in the mail - two write ups for driving outside the lines and driving in an unsafe manner - written three days AFTER the event, a couple of hundred bucks in fines. I had to go down to the courthouse and get them thrown out, which was easy because they had me listed as a juvenile on one of them.

I even got the court fees reimbursed - that's something I NEVER seen before.

"That's my story and I'm sticking to it." - STORMBRINGER SENDS

Today's Bird HERE


  1. SL - as you know, I am not a fan of snopes but here is the link from them on this story...

    They say if it TRUE and took place June 2007

  2. Interestingly, Frederick Gadson was charged with felony murder (for the death of his accomplish) and armed robbery.

  3. A little while after my last rodeo in Iraq and retirement, I spent 5 days in jail waiting on a $100 bond for Disturbing the Peace. My disturbance? Asking a cop standing on my driveway if he had ever shot and killed a man? He replied, "no". I said "well, I have and I didn't need a fuckin badge to do it". It took four of them to get me cuffed and in the car and I never laid a hand on them. I just wasn't going...I'm going to need a shiny point to lay my reticle on when the "Big Ruckus" starts, see how well it worka as a shield.