After five uneasy days, citizens of the U.S. were relieved and overjoyed Sunday to learn that Capt. Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama had been rescued from the four pirates taking him hostage. One of the four pirates – all of whom were between 17 and 19 years old – surrendered. The other three were shot and killed by U.S. Navy Seals shortly after.
According to news reports, the four pirates and Phillips were bobbing in a lifeboat about 50 meters from the destroyer USS Bainbridge with an AK-47 assault rifle pointed at Phillips. Based on news reports, when it was determined that the captain’s “life was in imminent danger,” the Seals shot at the pirates. Three of the pirates were killed and Phillips was unharmed. The precision required to perform that operation is absolutely dumbfounding, and speaks to the professionalism of the U.S. government and armed forces.
While Phillips will rightfully be hailed as a hero for enduring five days on a lifeboat with Somalian pirates. However, Phillips has said in reported interviews that those who helped in the rescue deserve the praise. Phillips is quoted as saying in several news stories, “I’m just the byline. The real heroes are the Navy, the Seals, those who have brought me home.”
Not very often do we hear of such a smoothly executed operation between a private corporation, the federal government, and our armed forces.
We live in a very interesting time – a time when it seems nobody can trust anyone. A time when major CEOs and their companies are ripping off their customers and the government alike. A time when our government refuses to hold corporations accountable for their unethical and unintelligent decisions.
Reports like the rescuing of Phillips give hope for the future of America in this very interesting time. The freedoms we enjoy allow us to be a nation of professionals and innovators, and we owe a great debt to our armed forces for those freedoms. While most predictions for our future aren’t bright, I firmly believe this nation has the intelligence, will and determination to weather the storm.
Clare W. Graves, in his Theory of Adult Human Development, states that “we are poised for an unprecedented, momentous leap in our perspectives … and ways to deal with behavioral patterns that now coexist or conflict with … new limiting boundaries.”
A trio of U.S. Navy Seal snipers shot and killed three pirates on a bobbing lifeboat 50 meters away, without harming the American captain that the pirates were threatening to kill. If that isn’t an example of an unprecedented way to deal with new limiting boundaries, I don’t know what is.
John Andrew Willis is a sophomore environmental science major from Dallas.