Underhill is still waiting to welcome home its hero. Yellow ribbons hang from fence posts and telephone poles and the large banner on the country store was so full of greetings and good wishes, a second one was added Thursday afternoon.
"We have so many people who would love to make it like a huge welcome home card," said Chris Gluck, whose students at Poker Hill Arts made the giant banners. "I kind of thought we might need a whole second one to show how great our community is."
Capt. Richard Phillips was not with the rest of the crew of the Maersk Alabama, who returned to the U.S. early Thursday morning. Cheering family members greeted them at Andrews Air Force Base. The shipping company's CEO, John Reinhart, delivered a message from their captain.
"He misses you, he knows that you're a team," Reinhart said. "He admires your spirit. He said that you performed like the great merchant mariners that you are."
Capt. Phillips has been on the USS Bainbridge since he was rescued from pirates on Sunday. He was supposed to join his crew in Kenya, but was diverted when the ship was called to respond to another pirate. The plan now-- a chartered flight from Kenya that will take Captain Phillips directly home to Vermont. He's expected to fly into Burlington at 4:30 p.m.
"When he does I bet everyone's going to be really happy," said Nate King, 10, whose entire family signed the banner.
"I think he's going to be really excited because he'll know a lot of people were supporting him," said 10-year-old Francesca Frost, who put her painted handprint on the banner. "That will make him feel really good."
"I'm just elated," Underhill resident Susan Lassiter said. "I'm so thrilled to hear he's coming home tomorrow. The community is just so uplifted and thrilled this is happening. I'm very happy for the family."
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