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Free: Captain Richard Phillips, hero; Update: “They were pointing the AK-47s at the captain.”

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 12, 2009 02:21 PM

Flying the flag high today:

Good news on this Easter Sunday. Captain Richard Phillips is free.

Give thanks and praise.

Reports say Captain Phillips jumped overboard again, and the US Navy moved in — killing three of the pirates and taking one into custody.

***

The headlines are not quite right.

They should read: “Daring Captain takes command again, second escape attempt successful; Navy captures three.”

More:

A spokeswoman for the Phillips family, Alison McColl, said Phillips and his wife, Andrea, spoke by phone shortly after he was freed.

“I think you can all imagine their joy and what a happy moment that was for them,” McColl said outside of the Phillips home in Underhill. “They’re all just so happy and relieved. Andrea wanted me to tell the nation that all of your prayers and good wishes have paid off because Capt. Phillips is safe.”

When Phillips’ crew heard the news aboard their ship in the port of Mombasa, they placed an American flag over the rail of the top of the Maersk Alabama and whistled and pumped their fists in the air. Crew fired a bright red flare into the sky from the ship.

“We made it!” said crewman ATM Reza, pumping his fist in the air.

“He managed to be in a 120-degree oven for days, it’s amazing,” said another of about a dozen crew members who came out to talk to reporters. He said the crew found out the captain was released because one of the sailors had been talking to his wife on the phone.

Capt. Joseph Murphy, the father of second-in-command Shane Murphy, thanked Phillips for his bravery.

“Our prayers have been answered on this Easter Sunday. I have made it clear throughout this terrible ordeal that my son and our family will forever be indebted to Capt. Phillips for his bravery,” Murphy said. “If not for his incredible personal sacrifice, this kidnapping and act of terror could have turned out much worse.”

In the written statement, Murphy said both his family and Phillips’ “can now celebrate a joyous Easter together.”

Terry Aiken, 66, who lives across the street from the Phillips house, fought back tears as he reacted to the news.

“I’m very, very happy,” Aiken said. “I can’t be happier for him and his family.”

***

Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney:

“They were pointing the AK-47s at the captain,” Vice Adm. William Gortney, head of the U.S. Naval Central Command, said in a Pentagon briefing from Bahrain.

Gortney also said Washington had rejected negotiations with the pirates. “The United States government policy is to not negotiate,” he said.

Would have been nice to hear those words directly from the commander-in-chief.

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