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Hero at Sea: Captain Richard Phillips

Captain Richard Phillips
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On April 9, 2009 the Maersk Alabama was boarded by pirates. Captain Phillips offered himself as a hostage in lieu of his crew. He spent 4 days with pirates before his rescue by Navy Seals on April 13, 2009

President Obama authorized the rescue and said in a statement, “I share the country’s admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans.”

Captain Phillips spoke to officials of the Maersk Line, who quoted him as saying: “The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.”

Phillips is a former Boston cab driver who went to sea. He had ideas of studying international law, but transferred from the University of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, graduating in 1979.  He became captain of the MV Maersk Alabama in 2009.

Phillips married Andrea Coggio in 1987. They have two children, Mariah and Danny and reside in Underhill, Vermont.

Captain Phillips' personal thank you note to the Iowa Transportation Museum reads, " Thank you for the honor of recognizing me and my crew with this award.  I am only one of many Merchant Marines that strive to do the best we can in many hazardous situations. I am truly honored. Thanks again. Capt. Richard Phillips."'

Personal note from Captain Phillips to the ITM Board of Directors
Painting protraying the April 2009 rescue of Captain Phillips
Captain Richard Phillips after his rescue. (Photo Courtesy of US Navy Seals Blog)
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