US captain freed by Navy snipers arrives in Kenya
The American sea captain held hostage for five days by Somali pirates reached land Thursday, with the U.S. destroyer that rescued him docking to the strains of "Sweet Home Alabama" hours after his crew reunited with their families back home, AP reported.
Capt. Richard Phillips of the U.S.-flagged Maersk Alabama cargo ship was brought into Mombasa harbor aboard the USS Bainbridge, which blared out the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit that includes the words "I'm coming home to you." The destroyer hoisted the U.S. flag as it arrived.
Phillips, 53, of Underhill, Vermont, gave himself up as a hostage to ensure the safety of his crew. He was freed Sunday by Navy SEAL sharpshooters who killed his three captors with three single shots taken from the Bainbridge amid choppy seas.
Phillips' wife, Andrea, and two children were still home in Vermont and did not know when or where they would meet him, according to her mother, Catherine Coggio.
"We're just so thankful that things have turned out the way they have," Coggio told The Associated Press by phone from her home in Richmond, Vt.
A charter plane was on standby to whisk Phillips home, said a security official at Mombasa airport who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Phillips' crew members were reunited with their families early Thursday at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland after a long flight from Mombasa. One crewman, carrying a child toward the terminal, shouted, "I'm happy to see my family!" Another exclaimed, "God bless America."