Capt. Philllips' Family Speaks Out - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Capt. Philllips' Family Speaks Out

Andrea Phillips (center) Andrea Phillips (center)
Capt. Richard Phillips Capt. Richard Phillips

South Burlington, Vermont - April 13, 2009

Andrea Phillips told reporters she's looking forward to having her husband home, calling the past five days extremely difficult. The hardest part -- not knowing what Capt. Richard Phillips was enduring as he was held captive by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

She spoke to reporters for the first time since Wednesday, when the rest of the crew of the Maersk Alabama was released and her husband was taken hostage aboard a small lifeboat in the Indian Ocean.

"I just want to thank you for allowing us to come out and make our statement as a family together," Andrea Phillips said to the two dozen cameras and nearly 50 reporters present. She kept her statement short, fighting emotions and a cold.

"I just want to let you know I spoke to Richard earlier today," she said. "And he thought it was funny that when I told him I was preparing a press statement that I had laryngitis because he knows it would be very hard to talk to you."

Maersk spokeswoman Alison McColl read Andrea Phillips' written statement. "The constant outpouring of support, prayers and yellow ribbons have provided me and my family with the strength we need to be strong for Richard," McColl read.

Capt. Richard Phillips was rescued Sunday when Navy SEAL snipers fired three simultaneous shots, taking down the three pirates who were holding him hostage. His shipmates on board the Maersk Alabama were relieved to hear their captain was safe.

"Ultimately everybody you see here before you today has the captain, Capt. Phillips, to thank for their lives and their freedom," said Chief Mate Shane Murphy.

Capt. Phillips deflected praise, instead calling the Navy SEALs "heroes."

Former Vermont Administration Secretary Mike Smith was a Navy SEAL from 1972 to 1975. He says intense training prepares them for situations like this.

"I wasn't surprised, I wasn't surprised about the execution of it, and I was very happy with the outcome," Smith said. "These are very risky operations and you're always very happy when the outcome comes out precisely as you planned."

And there was high praise from President Obama.

"I share our nation's admiration for Capt. Phillips' courage and leadership and selfless concern for his crew," the president said.

It's not clear exactly when Capt. Phillips will return to Vermont. Neither the family nor the spokesperson answered any questions from reporters. Andrea Phillips said she looks forward to his return so they can tell their story together as a family. Over those difficult five days, she smiled as she thought of how her husband would tell the story with his "trademark sense of humor."

McColl read, "She says you have no idea, but with Richard safe, you have given me the best Easter ever."

Kate Duffy - WCAX News

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