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A Joyous Easter For Hostage Families

A Joyous Easter For Hostage FamiliesWith news that Capt. Richard Phillips had been rescued unharmed after being held for five days by Somali pirates, a lawn sign in the captain's hometown of Underhill, Vt., that read "Pray for Captain Phillips' release and safe return home" was changed to read, "Capt. Phillips rescued and safe."

A spokeswoman for the Phillips family, Alison McColl, said Phillips and his wife, Andrea, spoke by phone shortly after he was freed.

"I think you can all imagine their joy and what a happy moment that was for them," McColl said outside of the Phillips home. "They're all just so happy and relieved. Andrea wanted me to tell the nation that all of your prayers and good wishes have paid off, because Capt. Phillips is safe."

The U.S. Navy's 5th Fleet said Phillips, 53, was resting comfortably after a medical exam on the San Diego-based USS Boxer in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Somalia.

In Mombasa, Kenya, Phillips' 19 crewmen, who said the captain offered himself as a hostage to safeguard the crew, gathered on the lower deck of the Maersk Alabama. They whistled and pumped their fists in the air and fired two bright red flares into the sky from the ship.

"We made it!" shouted ATM "Zahid" Reza, from Hartford, Conn., pumping his fist in the air as he stood among about a dozen crewmen who came out to answer questions from the throng of journalists and television cameras.

Another crew member, who declined to give his name, said he was not surprised Phillips had made it out alive, but said the captain had been "in a 120-degree oven for days."

Capt. Joseph Murphy, the father of Phillips' second-in-command Shane Murphy, thanked Phillips for his bravery.

"Our prayers have been answered on this Easter Sunday," Murphy said. "If not for his incredible personal sacrifice, this kidnapping and act of terror could have turned out much worse."

Murphy said both his family and Phillips' "can now celebrate a joyous Easter together."

"This was an incredible team effort, and I am extremely proud of the tireless efforts of all the men and women who made this rescue possible," U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said in a statement.

He called Phillips and his crew "heroic."

Terry Aiken, 66, who lives across the street from the Phillips house, fought back tears as he reacted to the news.

"I'm very, very happy," Aiken said. "I can't be happier for him and his family."

Original Source :,0,225445.story