David P. Jacobsen, freed by pro-Iranian Muslim terrorists in Lebanon, arrived here Monday after 17 months in captivity, saying he has "mixed feelings" about his freedom because other American hostages are still "in hell."
Jacobsen, a hospital administrator from Huntington Beach, Calif., was red-eyed and looked exhausted, but doctors who examined him at the U.S. Air Force Hospital here pronounced him "in very good condition."
Jacobsen was flown by U.S. Navy helicopter from East Beirut to Larnaca, Cyprus, then boarded a State Department executive jet for Wiesbaden. On his arrival here, he made it clear that his main concern is for the five American hostages still held in Lebanon.
"These guys are in hell," he said. "We have got to get them out."
'Very, Very Happy'
He said he was "very, very happy" but had mixed feelings about his release because he had to leave his fellow hostages behind.
Hours later, President Reagan said during a campaign appearance in Las Vegas that the United States is working through channels "that I can't discuss" to win the release of the other American hostages. Asked if other releases were imminent, Reagan said: "There's no way to tell right now. We've been working on that, but we have had heartbreaking disappointment before."
After Jacobsen's preliminary physical examination by Air Force doctors here, the hospital's commanding officer, Col. Charles K. Maffet, said: "Although he is tired, our initial impression is that he is physically in very good condition. It also seems that he has dealt with the stresses of his captivity extremely well."
A Little Underweight
The former hostage had lost a few pounds in captivity, Maffet said, but the initial examinations did not reveal any evidence of physical abuse. It was too early to say whether he might suffer any lingering physical or psychological problems, the colonel said.
Maffet said Jacobsen will be given more thorough examinations by specialists in internal medicine and "stress management."
Some of the hospital's patients--mostly U.S. military personnel and their dependents--came out of their rooms to greet Jacobsen when he arrived, Maffet said.
Members of Jacobsen's family--two sons, a daughter and their spouses--are expected to arrive here today from Huntington Beach.
Jacobsen, 55, was abducted May 28, 1985, in Beirut, where he was the administrator of the hospital of the American University of Beirut. He was held, along with at least two other Americans and several Frenchmen, by a militant group known as Islamic Jihad, or Islamic Holy War, a Shia Muslim organization loyal to Iran.
Jacobsen was freed Sunday in Beirut near the abandoned U.S. Embassy compound in the city's western sector and was taken by embassy officials to the new U.S. diplomatic mission in Christian East Beirut.
Jacobsen, who wore a neatly cropped beard flecked with gray, a brown sweater and rust-colored pants, was accompanied to West Germany by Anglican Church envoy Terry Waite, the special representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Waite, who has sought for months to arrange the release of the hostages, reappeared in Beirut on Friday and told reporters that he expected some progress in winning the freedom of the hostages within a day or two. Jacobsen was freed less than 48 hours later.
"Thank God for a man like Terry Waite," Jacobsen said, putting his arm around Waite after being freed. "It is a pleasure to see this guy, but not because he has a beard like me."
He recalled that Waite spent last Christmas in Beirut, trying to see the hostages and to negotiate on their behalf. "As we sat on the floor in our underwear on Christmas Eve, he gave us something we needed," Jacobsen said. "He gave us hope."
Waite declined to say anything about his effort to bring about the release of the other hostages.
"We're being very careful about what we say," Waite said. ". . . . We're just at a very critical stage. I'll be here probably for a couple of days, and then I may be going back."
Waite refused to discuss the terms of Jacobsen's release or the efforts under way to free the remaining hostages, citing "the very great sensitivity of the next stage" of the negotiations.
However, he added that "this is a good and promising time. . . . Our efforts will continue with all the force and vigor that they've had in the past days."
During the stopover in Larnaca, Cyprus, Jacobsen appeared to distance himself from a videotape in which he and fellow hostage Terry A. Anderson appeared last month. In the tape, Jacobsen criticized the Reagan Administration for not doing more to free him and the other American hostages.
"Another hurt worse than captivity is the fact that our government refuses to help us," Jacobsen said in the tape, released by his kidnapers Oct. 2. "Being ignored is the worst pain." Both he and Anderson complained that the Administration was pouring all its efforts into winning the freedom of arrested American journalist Nicholas Daniloff in Moscow while ignoring them.
"In spite of my video appearances," Jacobsen said Monday, "I'm darned proud to be an American. I'm proud of American government employees, and I would hope all Americans would be proud of our government, also.
"For all those who saw me on the video, I want right now to thank President Reagan, the United States and all the civil servants for what they were doing during my 524 days of captivity."
When the videotape was released last month, Reagan and others suggested that Jacobsen might have been forced by his captors to criticize Administration efforts on his behalf. That was the implication, too, of Jacobsen's remarks Monday, although he did not specifically disavow the earlier comments.
Asked about his health, Jacobsen declared, "I feel great," and he challenged a reporter who expressed doubts about his condition to a six-mile run around the Larnaca airport.
After he left the plane here at the U.S. military airfield outside Wiesbaden, Jacobsen caught sight of a welcoming banner and commented: "My name is spelled right. My Danish parents will be happy."
At the Air Force Medical Center, Jacobsen will be given thorough physical and psychological tests to determine his condition after the long period of confinement.
"We hope to complete the evaluation over the next day or two," Col. Maffet said.
He said Jacobsen had a good appetite, was eating normally and even had drunk a little wine.
Still in the hands of Islamic Jihad are Anderson, 39, chief Middle East correspondent of the Associated Press, and Thomas Sutherland, 55, dean of the agricultural school of the American University. Both were abducted in 1985.
The organization reported a year ago that it had killed U.S. diplomat William Buckley, 57, who was abducted on the street on March 16, 1984, but his body has never been found.
Islamic Jihad has said it would not free the Americans until 17 Shia Muslims imprisoned in Kuwait are freed, although in its most recent statement, issued Sunday, the group did not repeat that demand. The 17 prisoners in Kuwait were convicted of bombing the U.S. and French embassies there in 1983.
Another American, Frank H. Reed, 53, director of a private school in Beirut, was kidnaped on Sept. 9, 1986, and a pro-Libyan group claimed responsibility. Three days later, Joseph J. Cicippio, 56, acting controller of the American University, was abducted, and a group called the Revolutionary Justice Organization claimed responsibility.
On Oct. 21, this group said it had kidnaped an American writer named Edward A. Tracy, 55.
In Larnaca, Jacobsen said his joy at being released "is . . . greatly lessened by the fact that Terry Anderson and the others are still hostages." His voice cracked, and he continued, "My closest friend, Joseph Cicippio, is still a hostage. I pray to God that Joe will get out." He added, "Terry's fine."
Then, addressing the families of the hostages, Jacobsen paraphrased part of the 27th Psalm, which he said had given him strength while in captivity.
"Do not despair. Trust in the Lord," he said. Then, his voice breaking with emotion, he added his own thoughts: "Keep faith. These guys will get out."
Times staff writer Michael Ross contributed to this story from Cyprus.