Underhill expresses joy when Navy frees Phillips from captivity

04/13/09 10:36AM By Jane Lindholm
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Alison McColl of the Maersk shipping line speaks to the media about the release of Captain Richard Phillips.
(Host) Tremendous joy in Underhill yesterday as word emerged that Captain Richard Phillips had been rescued off the coast of Somalia. 

VPR's Jane Lindholm has more.

(Lindholm) Yellow ribbons trailed from fence posts, utility poles and mailboxes in Underhill.  And by mid-afternoon, signs praying for the safe return of Richard Phillips had been changed to reflect news that the captain had in fact been rescued by the US Navy after a firefight that killed three pirates.

Friends and family members gathered at the Phillips home in Underhill, and well-wishers streamed by all afternoon, honking their horns in support as news crews perched across the street.  The Phillips family also heard from President Barack Obama, Senator Patrick Leahy and other leaders. 

Alison McColl, a spokeswoman for the company that Richard Phillips works for, said Andrea Phillips lit up when she was finally able to speak with her husband.

(McColl) "She was laughing while she was on the phone with him.  She was saying his trademark sense of humor is still very much intact and he's in great spirits.  And if you guys could have just seen her light up when she talked to him.  It was really remarkable."

(Lindholm) The Phillips family declined to speak to the media on Sunday.  But Maersk Spokeswoman Alison McColl had a message from Andrea Phillips.

(McColl) "She and her family have felt a tremendous amount of support from the entire nation.  The thoughts, the prayers, the sentiments, the support you've shown has really helped them endure this really difficult situation.  And she believes she can feel it and she believes her husband felt it out there in the middle of the ocean, so thanks to the entire nation, the local community, the state of Vermont for all your help there."

(Lindholm) Captain Phillips is expected to return to the US in a couple of days. 

For VPR News, I'm Jane Lindholm.


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