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Bright yellow ribbons are blazing in the sun on Underhill, Vt., as the town prepares for the arrival of its hero, Captain Richard Phillips. Phillips is expected to arrive this afternoon on a chartered flight to Burlington, Vt., and from there will travel to Underhill, about 18 miles away at the foot of Mount Mansfield.
"Welcome Home Captain Phillips" proclaims an 18-foot-long banner at the Underhill Country Store. With flinty Vermont humor, townsfolk call Phillips "the biggest celebrity in Underhill."
The world's attention focused on Phillips earlier this week when he was held captive by Somali pirates after giving himself up to secure the safety of his crew and his ship, the Maersk Alabama. He was freed on Easter Sunday when a team of Navy SEALs snipers shot dead three pirates holding Phillips hostage.
Phillips travelled on the naval destroyer, the USS Bainbridge, to Mombasa, Kenya, and from there flew to the U.S.
Underhill is ready for a big hero's welcome. But Phillips' wife and family want to have a private welcome at their home. The white picket fence in front of the Phillips' home is bedecked with yellow ribbons.
Traveling to the U.S. in different circumstances is the fourth of the Somali pirates who had held Phillips. Abduhl Wal-i-Musi was aboard the Bainbridge when the SEALs mounted the operation to rescue Phillips and was arrested. He will stand trial in New York. There was the possibility that he would be turned over to Kenyan authorities and be charged and go to trial in Kenya. Several other suspected Somali pirates are currently in jail in Kenya, awaiting trial.