Rescued American's dad "proud" of the U.S.
This post was written and reported by CBS News' Chris Francescani
The father of Jessica Buchanan, the American rescued by Navy SEALs in Somalia along with a Danish colleague this weekend, described in an interview with CBS News the two most amazing phone calls he said he has ever received.
John Buchanan told CBS News one was the call he finally got from his daughter, right after President Obama called following his State of the Union address on Tuesday night.
"She said, 'Daddy, I love you, and I'll be fine. I'm OK.' It was just after, over 93 days and I hadn't spoken to her. It was pretty amazing and incredible that she's fine and (the SEAL teams) were able to do something and get her," Buchanan said. "We're just extremely grateful to God first, and to the U.S. government. They've been great throughout this whole thing - from the first day there were there, supporting us."
The families of the two hostages had their own negotiators, who worked in conjunction with the aid organization and the U.S. government, but were independent, Buchanan said. The hostage takers originally contacted the family through the aid organization.
"They were very difficult on everybody - on her husband, myself, her brother and sister. We got what (the hostage takers) wanted us to know," Buchanan said.
Buchanan said he was heartened throughout the ordeal to know that "the FBI were looking over their shoulder the whole time, keeping everything on the up and up. I can't say enough about what the FBI did both in Kenya and here in the U.S. They were efficient. They were kind. They were just on top of everything. They knew what they were doing and what was going on at all times. They utilized a ton of resources."
Buchanan said he was briefed several times a week by the negotiators, and daily by the aid organization. But still it was trying. "Most days it was 'nothing,'" he said. He and his other daughter spent "about a month in Nairobi and Kenya" with Jessica's husband, where they met with aid organization officials and the hostage negotiators, but returned home empty handed.
Still, he knew that talk of a rescue was in the air.
"I was sort of getting a picture [of the situation] last week, because we had been getting some bad reports on Jess's health and I knew what the triggers were for them to intervene," Buchanan said.
He said he it was "completely coincidental" that he was in D.C. for meetings - which he said were set up two weeks prior - with the aid organization. He said the State of the Union was "the last thing" on his mind. He was in a hotel room in D.C. with his other daughter, taking calls from relatives, and not paying much attention to the State of the Union broadcast.
The lead-up to Mr. Obama's phone call "was very strange, because [White House officials] called, and somebody from the Situation Room called and told me to make sure my phone would be clear for a very important call. It was 40 minutes of not knowing what that call would be. I didn't know if it was going to be the worst or the best. We were in a hotel, myself and Jessica's sister. We had concluded a meeting. And so we just waited. A guy came on the phone and said 'Mr. Buchanan, the next voice you'll hear will be the President of the United States.' I said 'OK.' I'm thinking 'this could be some kind of cruel joke.'"
As it turned out, it was most definitely not a joke.
"He said, 'John, this is Barack Obama. I've got some really good news for you. Your daughter Jessica has been rescued and evacuated by our SEAL team and she's on her way home.' He said he empathized with me, having two daughters, and said something to the effect of how proud he was that our young people would go help these other people."
Buchanan says he is very thankful for all that was done for his family.
"I love my daughter," Buchanan said. "I'm just thrilled that she's ok and she's back. It sounds corny but I really am proud to be an American. We are the greatest country in the world, with the best resources. And I'm grateful to be an American."
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