Neighbors, Friends Welcome Former Lebanon Hostage Home With AM-US-Iran Bjt
SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ Former hostage David Jacobsen came home Sunday to California, embracing his aged father and other relatives and friends who haven’t seen him since his capture by terrorists 17 months ago.
″Dreams of this homecoming kept me going,″ Jacobsen said. ″The thought of a reunion with family and friends gave me hope. And now that day has arrived, and I look forward to sharing time with my loved ones.″
His long journey home ended when a small private jet carrying the ex- captive, his three children and their spouses touched down at 1:05 p.m. at John Wayne Orange County Airport.
Jacobsen, who wore a tiny American flag on his lapel, warmly embraced his 92-year-old father, Jacob, after stepping off the jet on the tarmac.
About 20 family members and friends, clutching red and white balloons, held a long banner that read: ″Welcome Uncle David. We Love You.″ About 30 reporters stood a dozen yards away to document the reunion.
Yellow ribbons graced trees and lampposts in Huntington Beach, where Jacobsen lived for 17 years, as his family and friends celebrated his freedom.
Details about the 55-year-old Jacobsen’s return home were kept private by family members seeking a quiet reunion.
The family left the airport for the home of Jacobsen’s sister, Carla Forbes, in Altadena, where a private party was held. The airport banner welcoming him home was stretched across the entrance of the two-story home.
In front of Eric Jacobsen’s apartment, a sign pinned to a pine tree near the driveway read: ″We want some special time alone. Do not disturb.″
At the airport, Jacobsen read a brief statement to reporters, saying he recognized their interest in what has happened to him but asking for time alone to spend with his family.
″I want to thank all the people who have followed my story and I ask them to continue to pray for Terry, Tom, Joe, Bill, Frank, Alex, Edward and all the other hostages. May they soon share a similar kind of celebration,″ he said.
Jacobsen referred to hostages still being held in Lebanon, including Terry Anderson, chief Middle East correspondent of The Associated Press; Thomas Sutherland, the American University’s acting dean of agriculture in Beirut; Joseph Cicippio, an accountant at the American University; William Buckley, a U.S. Embassy political officer; Frank Reed, an American educator; Alec Collett, a British journalist on assignment with the United Nations relief agency; and Edward Tracy, an American writer.
″I know that you have many questions,″ Jacobsen told reporters. ″I want to answer them, and a press conference will be announced in the next day or two. But now I want to share this glorious day with the people that I love so much that I have waited 17 months to hug and kiss. God bless you all.″
Jacobsen and family members then boarded a hotel van and automobiles for a private family reunion.
Jacobsen had flown from Washington, D.C., aboard a jet provided by an anonymous board member of the television evangelist Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral, church spokesman Michael Nason said.
Despite relatives’ secrecy, there was an outpouring of public concern and rejoicing in Southern California, especially Huntington Beach.
Residents on Busby Lane, where Jacobsen’s former wife, Sally, still lives, plastered homes with welcome signs and yellow ribbons Saturday even though they weren’t sure Jacobsen would show up Sunday.
Jacobsen’s father, two sisters and two other children live elsewhere around Southern California.
Apartments, garages and shrubbery were also decked out on Holt Street in Huntington Beach, where Eric Jacobsen lives.
″Free at Last,″ said a sign hung on one Busby Lane home.
″It’s really an occasion for us,″ said resident Eve Dobkin, who has known the Jacobsens since they moved into the neighborhood in the 1960s. ″He’s one of us, you know. There’s a family feeling in the neighborhood.″
The feeling was shared by neighbors who did not even know Jacobsen.
″I’m sure everybody in the United States is glad to see him come home,″ said Richard Georgeson, who put a yellow ribbon on a tree in front of his home even though he is not an aquaintance of the former hostage.
Jacobsen, director of American University Hospital in Beirut when he was abducted May 28, 1985, was freed Nov. 2 and flown to a U.S. military hospital in Wiesbaden, West Germany, for a medical examination. He arrived in Washington, D.C., on Friday and met with President Reagan.
The spokesman for the Crystal Cathedral said Jacobsen had attended services at the Garden Grove church and when the ex-hostage was in Wiesbaden ″we got word that he would welcome a phone call from Dr. Schuller.″
Jacobsen’s son Paul addressed the Crystal Cathedral congregation about six months ago, the spokesman noted, and said there may be an arrangement for the former hostage to speak Nov. 16.
The city of Huntington Beach, a retirement home in Westminster where a group of residents ″adopted″ hostages and prayed for their return, and a Los Angeles County supervisor also are planning celebrations.