Todd Hohn is a former U.S. Air Force colonel and FedEx pilot who was detained in Guangzhou, China earlier this month.
Hohn was detained by Chinese authorities on September 12 while boarding a flight to Hong Kong, according to the Associated Press. Last week, he was released on bail.
Authorities said Hohn was carrying nonmetallic pellets used for air guns in one of his checked bags. Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said last Friday that Hohn is now under investigation on “suspicion of smuggling weapons and ammunition,” AP reported.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Officials Found a Box of Roughly 700 Air Gun Pellets in Hohn’s Luggage
When Hohn was detained, he had been flying deliveries throughout Asia from Guangzhou, according to the Wall Street Journal. The pilot was waiting for a flight back home to Hong Kong.
Chinese security officials escorted Hohn from a pre-boarding executive lounge at Guangzhou, the WSJ reported, before interviewing him and taking his passport, cellphone and “other communication devices.” The ministry spokesman said a box of 681 air gun pellets was found in Hohn’s luggage.
Now, Mr. Hohn “has been told” that he is not allowed to leave mainland China until the end of the investigation, sources told the WSJ.
2. Hohn Was a Commander at the Altus Air Force Base
Before joining FedEx, Hohn was stationed at the Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma.
In 2015, Hohn became the new wing commander of the base, meaning he was assigned to “lead the airmen of the base in supporting the mission of forging combat mobility forces and deploying airmen warriors,” according to the base’s website.
Hohn told ABC 7 News at the time: “I get to go out there and show the great work the men and women of Altus Air Force Base do every day. And I get to go out there with the community and get a chance to interact. How would I describe this? This is the best job I will have in the Air Force.” Hohn also told ABC that the only pressure he was feeling was to take care of his new family.
Hohn stepped down from his position in June 2017. That same month, Hohn and 21 other new pilots were welcomed to FedEx and the company’s union membership, the WSJ reported.
3. Hohn Has Talked About How the September 11 Attacks Influenced His Military Career
In 2016, Hohn opened up in a YouTube video about the impact the September 11 terrorist attacks had on his life and his service in the Air Force. Hohn said that on the morning of the attacks, he was getting ready to go to work when he began to see the news reports.
“I was literally halfway through my shave, and I had CNN on, and I heard that an airplane just hit a tower of the World Trade Center in New York City. And I became a very interested pilot at that point, [thinking] ‘Where’s LaGuardia? Hey I’ve been there. Hey, JFK. How do those flight paths work? This doesn’t make sense,'” he said.
Then Hohn watched as the second plane hit the World Trade Center.
“And at that moment, I became a concerned and protective husband and I became a military service member with a job to do,” he said. “I became thankful that my father, also a veteran, instilled in me that patriotism and desire to serve. And I was thankful that I would be on the field for whatever came [next].”
4. Hohn is From Niceville, Florida and Graduated from Florida State University in 1994
Hohn graduated from Niceville High School in 1989, according to an article in the Niceville paper, the Bay Beacon, the WSJ reported. In 1994, he graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor of arts degree.
Hohn was also deployed in support of Operation Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom, ABC 7 reported. He was promoted to colonel in 2013. As of 2015, when he became commander of the Altus Air Force Base, Hohn had 4,200 hours of experience in various Air Force aircraft.
“His previous stops include Alabama, New Jersey, Kansas, Florida, and most recently, the Pentagon,” ABC 7 wrote in 2015. “He says he is thrilled to be in Oklahoma.”
5. Trade Tensions Between the US and China Have Ensnared FedEx Before
In May, Chinese technology company Huawei was added to the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security Entity List, which bans it from receiving US technology without a particular license.
Later that month, the Chinese company complained that FedEx has misrouted some of its deliveries.
Huawei told Reuters that FedEx had diverted two packages to the United States that had been sent from Japan and addressed to Huawei in China, along with two other packages. Huawei said the packages contained documents and “no technology.”
FedEx later apologized on its Chinese social media account, saying there was no “external pressure” to divert the packages.