“I ever tell you about the time I was in a Panamanian jail on kidnapping charges”

| February 12, 2014

I’ve heard some funny stories in my day. Lots of them. There was one PFC in my unit that casually told a story one day about the time “me and some friends dug up a gentleman’s head to take him out for a good time.” That story was disturbing funny. I had another dude who had a great story about coming home from weekend drill to find that his then-wife had stolen everything from the house, including the dirty clothes he’d left in the washing machine. (This same chap had a series of stories that all ended with use of ether and a victim waking up to an erect man wearing only the upper half of a Batman costume.)

And I’ve seen comedians I love. Dennis Miller is hilarious. I love Bill Burr for his sarcasm and wit. And of course the late great (and all time TSO favorite comic) Patrice O’Neal. And I’ve never laughed as hard as I have with my friend, and the world’s funniest human being, David Bellavia. He has stories that he would tell and my sides would ache for days everytime I thought about how hard I laughed. He has one story about being a Match.com moderator that if I even think of it I start giggling.

Now, that said…..I was going through all the posts today, and came across a nugget on a post that got 5 comments. Which is ridiculous, because a post last week about masturbation got over 200. Now, I’m not saying Lilyea is in the league with the others for comedic delivery, but I nearly shit and drove off the road when he told me the story that he casually dropped into a post:

Yeah, I know Carcel Modelo [prison] pretty well, but my stay there was measured in days rather than months. I was there for kidnapping, but when the Canal Zone Provost Marshall told the Panamanians that the person who I supposedly kidnapped was in custody in the CZ, they let me go. But, it’s not a very friendly place. My toilet was a quart-sized milk carton, my bed was a couple of sheets of newspaper spread out on the concrete floor. Breakfast was a small roll and a cup of warm brown-colored water that they called coffee. Lunch was usually fish head soup, with real a fish head to prove it. So I have a sense of the conditions that Colonel Ruffer confronted. It was pretty scary and I wasn’t an undercover spy or anything.

Now granted he isn’t telling the whole story here. But for the love of Spongebob, how can your author drop a little nugget about spending time in a Panamanian Jail on kidnapping charges, and not a one of you said “Um, Bro, WTF?”

Category: Politics

Comments (61)

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  1. Green Thumb says:


    Ask Commander Monkress.

    At All Point Logistics.

    Just call and ask.

    The Commander as the answer.

  2. Jonn Lilyea says:

    So, here’s the story;

    My friend, a Puerto Rican, was spotted in a Panamanian bar talking to a Cuban spy. The Cubans and Panamanians have never got along – the Cubans invaded Panama in 1959 and were thrown back into the Caribbean by the Guardia Nacional. The national leader of Panama at the time was a right-leaning strongman, Omar Torrijos and not a fan of the communists.

    So the Panamanians picked my friend up (he was also in the US military) and held him for questioning. When they released him a few days later, they prevented him from returning to the Canal Zone, for some reason. The first place he went when he was freed was my apartment in downtown Panama City. I acted as a go-between for him and his company commander. After a few days, he asked if I could get him back to the control of the Army, and of course, I did. I smuggled him to the provost marshal’s office in my father-in-law’s car.

    The next day, their version of the FBI (called DENI, Departamento Nacional de Investigaciones) came to my apartment. I immediately called the PMO’s office and they told me not to tell DENI anything. I should point out that during this time, there were negotiations between the US and Panama in regards to handing over the Canal. There had been a few bombings in the Canal Zone, one in a housing area (someone threw a bomb from the Thatcher Ferry Bridge into an unoccupied home) and another at the Main PX (a car bomb in the parking lot)

    The PMO had told me not to tell them where my friend was, so I did what I was ordered to do and they took me to the La Guardia’s HQs at the Commandancia, later to become famous during Operation Just Cause. I was interrogated for a few hours, but all I would give them is my name, rank and social security number. The interrogation ended when the DENI guy asked me what kind of name was “Lilyea”. I told him “Sueco” (Swedish), but I mispronounced it (being a dumbass gringo), and he thought I called him a queer. So off to solitary confinement I went.

    I spent the next few days locked in a cell about 8×12 feet. My bed was a newspaper spread out on the concrete floor. My toilet was a one-quart milk carton (which the guards emptied every day) I got a shower every few days, but by myself. They wouldn’t let me near the other prisoners who were allowed to wander the hallways, while I was kept segregated. One American who had been arrested for drugs (he told me it was for pot), had been there for more than a year and hadn’t yet been to court. When the representative of the US Embassy visited, he wasn’t told that I was there.

    The Army did send me chow from the messhall on occasion, but it didn’t always get there. Mostly I ate the prison food. In the morning, it was a roll and brown water that they called coffee, on Sundays we got spaghetti – noodles with ketchup. Lunch was usually a thin fish head soup, complete with a fish head. I tried exercising in my cell, but the guards would make me stop.

    Meanwhile, my mother-in-law had gone to school with Manuel Noriega who was a Lieutenant Colonel in the La Guardia at the time and she went and asked him to intervene and get me released. Of course, he didn’t.

    Eventually, the Army negotiated my release. The fellow they sent to retrieve me said that they had told him that I’d called them names during the interrogation and when I explained to him what happened, he got a real chuckle out of the story. But, he told me that they had charged me with kidnapping my friend.

    So when I got back to my battalion HQs, the sergeant major met me at the door and asked “Didn’t they let you shave in there?” Nice welcome, you know. Thanks for your concern, sergeant major.

    So, they court martialed my friend and when I testified at the trial, they let him off. The only evidence I could present was that I was incarcerated because I’d helped him escape to the Canal Zone. So the remainder of the time that I was in Panama, I had a Panamanian police officer shadowing me. They even stationed one outside my apartment. Needless to say, I behaved myself.

  3. Twist says:

    When I was 19 I was working as an assistant recruiter for the NG. I was driving home when my jerry rigged stereo went out. I pulled over and fixed it. When I stood up there were two police cars and a K9 unit parked behind me. I started to drive and they pulled me over. They came up to my car and asked me why I was in camo and I replied “I’m in the Army”. They then asked me what was in the brown bag and I replied “my lunch”. They asked to search my car and I said it was ok. Being young, dumb, and full of you know what I forgot to tell them about the pistol in my glove box. Next thing I know I am face planted on my hood being cuffed. Long story short, where I pulled off at was a pot field they were overwatching and they thought I was the one harvesting it. They ended up letting me go after an apology.

  4. AW1 Tim says:

    Nice to read another “Witness to History” story, Jonn!


  5. A Proud Infidel says:

    HERE Y’ALL GO, he and I were Grade School pals, YES, he claims past Military Service in some of his videos claiming to be “A Retired US Army E-1 thanks to some Colonel’s Wife, a cheap motel room, and a bag of weed” (It’s part of his routine, that ain’t Stolen Valor, is it? He doesn’t claim any medals, schools, etc.). Anyway, pay attention to the Cop’s name (NSFW, kids, or the easily offended, thus I KNOW most of you will get a kick out of this!)

  6. Sparks says:

    @56 Proud Great video! Thanks for sharing.

  7. A Proud Infidel says:

    @57, As Elvis himself would’ve said it, “Thank-yuh, thank-yuh ver’much!!”.

  8. A Proud Infidel says:

    P.S., I once tried to be normal, and I assure each and every one of you here that IT WAS ABSOLUTELY THE WORST TWO MINUTES OF MY ENTIRE LIFE!!! *PANT*, *PANT*, *PANT*,…

  9. Ex-PH2 says:

    Well, this one comes from Shep, who got it from someone else.


    You think you have lived to be 80 plus and know who you are, then along comes someone and blows it all to hell!

    An old Air Force Pilot sat down at the Starbucks, still wearing his old flight jacket and ordered a cup of coffee.

    As he sat sipping his coffee, a young woman sat down next to him. She turned to the pilot and asked, “Are you a real pilot?”

    He replied, ‘Well, I’ve spent my whole life flying planes, first Stearmans, then the early Grummans… flew a Wildcat and Corsair in WWII, and later in the Korean conflict, Banshees and Cougars, and the F-4E Phantom in Vietnam.

    I’ve taught more than 300 individuals to fly and given rides to hundreds, so I guess I am a pilot,… and you, my dear, who are you?’

    She said, ‘I’m a lesbian. I spend my whole day thinking about naked women.
    As soon as I get up in the morning, I think about naked women.
    When I shower, I think about naked women.
    When I watch TV, I think about naked women.
    It seems everything makes me think of naked women.’

    The two sat sipping in silence.

    A little while later, a young man sat down on the other side of the old pilot and asked: “Are you a real pilot?”

    He replied, ‘I always thought I was, but I just found out I’m a lesbian.’

    Thank you, thank you, I’ll be here until Sunday morning.