Jessica Landon was 4 years old when her dad joined TSA. At that tender age, she had no concept of the horrific events of 9/11 or the solemn oath her dad pledged to uphold back in 2002.
Working as a lead station agent for American Eagle at Florida’s Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Restituto (Resty) Landon traded his airline uniform for the first generation navy and white TSA uniform with a cloth badge sewn above the left chest pocket.
“As part of the initial workforce, I had the opportunity to assist with federalizing our nation’s airports,” said Landon, now a JAX training specialist. “I received my official tactical badge when TSA transitioned from screeners to officers and understood the important significance of the badge.”
In 2008, the new TSA uniform, badge and position name change represented an evolution from screeners to skilled TSA security professionals with command presence, a change not lost on Landon.
TSA badge 76016 was proudly displayed on his pressed, blue uniform shirt every work day until 2021 when then Supervisory TSA Officer Landon accepted a position as a TSA manager and turned in his uniform and shield. The badge was shipped back to the Badge and Credentialing Unit (BCU) at headquarters.
“When my daughter informed me that she applied to be an TSA officer in late 2022, the idea of presenting her with my former tactical badge was instantaneous,” remembered Landon. “I reached out to JAX Program Analyst Larry Birath and floated the idea.”
Understanding the symbolic weight of the request, an enthusiastic Birath connected with BCU lead Matthew Randolph only to find badge 76016 wasn’t available.
“He explained the badge had been refurbished and reassigned to a new transportation security officer (TSO) at New York’s Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) as of May 2022,” said Birath. “He (Randolph) also realized the significance of Resty being able to pass on his badge to his daughter and said he would work on getting the badge swapped with the EWR officer.”
While the badge made its way from EWR to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport (GSP), Jessica’s home airport in South Carolina, she eagerly progressed through the training phases.
“My father and stepmother (JAX Administrative Assistant Brenda Landon) were both an inspiration to me to join TSA,” explained Jessica, who was looking for a meaningful career when she and her fiancé relocated from Florida to South Carolina. “I spoke to my father prior to going to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center training about receiving his badge but never went into details of him and my stepmother actually being there, so it was a little bit of a surprise when he called me the day before stating they were on the way up.”
The family reunited at GSP for a memorable ceremony.
“It was a very emotional experience to be physically present to pin my former badge and apply epaulets to my daughter,” said Resty. “Knowing how TSA started and the remarkable history I was able to witness during my career, I couldn’t help but consider how she will also be a part of TSA’s future.”
“Having my father’s badge means a great deal to me as I feel it's a great honor to have something he has had since he was issued it back in 2008,” said Jessica. “I have some big shoes to fill wearing his badge, and I cannot wait to see what TSA has in store for me.”
Jessica is off to a fast start. She discovered two firearms on X-ray during on-the-job training.
“I am very proud to work for TSA, and I am very grateful for the opportunity to show them the potential I have to work for them,” said Jessica. “I go home every night tired from being on my feet all day but proud that I made, even for one day, the nation’s transportation systems for the people and commerce safe from any and all harm.”
By Karen Robicheaux, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs