Senior Citizen Tour Bus Claims 'Gestapo Tactics' by Yellowstone Park Rangers

| by Michael Allen

Stories of elderly people and U.S. veterans ignoring the federal government shutdown and going in to National Parks that are closed seem to be proliferating the media these days.

Salisbury, Mass. resident Pat Vaillancourt claims that she and her fellow tourists, who came from different countries around the world, were kept in a Yellowstone National Park hotel, the Old Faithful Inn, under armed guard beginning on Oct. 1.

“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us, 'You can’t go outside.' Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals,” Vaillancourt told Eagle-Tribune.

“We’ve become a country of fear, guns and control. It was like they brought out the armed forces. Nobody was saying, ‘we’re sorry.'"

However, their tour bus did get to drive around and stopped near a large herd of bison.

But when the seniors got off the bus to take pictures, which they were not supposed to do, Vaillancourt says an armed park ranger came by and ordered them to get back in the bus because they couldn’t “recreate.”

The bus trip's tour guide Gordon Hodgson told the park ranger that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos (which actually is recreating).

“She told me you need to return to your hotel and stay there. This is just Gestapo tactics. We paid a lot to get in. All these people wanted to do was take some pictures,” Hodgson told the Livingston Enterprise.

Hodgson said the park ranger told him he could be convicted of trespassing if he disobeyed, but he insisted, “The national parks belong to the people. This isn’t right.”

He didn't mention any actual Gestapo tactics such as shooting, torturing or beating people.

Neither Vaillancourt or any of the other travelers were harmed or physically threatened during their trip, but did have to endure a 2.5-hour trip out of the Yellowstone National Park on Oct. 3, which did not stop at bathrooms.

The tour bus had its own bathroom, but the seniors didn't like it. The elderly people were furious they couldn't stop at a roadside restroom on the way out.

Vaillancourt compared the World War II veterans who were on a trip to Washington D.C. to see the World War II memorial, which had closed, to a Japanese prisoner of war camp where people were tortured and suffered horrible deaths.

“My father took a lot of crap from the Japanese. Every day they made him bow to the Japanese flag. But he stood up to them. He always said to stand up for what you believe in, and don’t let them push you around,” said Vaillancourt.

Sources: Livingston Enterprise and Eagle-Tribune