David P. Jacobsen, held captive in Beirut for 531 days, finally returned home to Huntington Beach and the embrace of his family, friends and his 92-year-old father.
Jacobsen, the former administrator of the American University Hospital in Beirut, was kidnapped on May 28, 1985, by Shia Muslims. He was released on Nov. 2 and returned home after spending a week in Germany and Washington, where he met with President Reagan.
After staying in seclusion for three days upon his return, Jacobsen held a 50-minute news conference Thursday where he declared that he was never beaten or mistreated by his captors. He also made an impassioned plea to his former captors to release Terry Anderson, the Middle East correspondent for the Associated Press, and Thomas Sutherland, the acting dean of the agriculture school at American University in Beirut.
Jacobsen was the third American to be released by the Shia Muslim rebels in the past year.
At his news conference, Jacobsen cautioned the news media to refrain from speculation on the negotiations that led to his release. Such speculation, he said, may jeopardize any negotiations for the release of Anderson, Sutherland and three other Americans being held hostage in Lebanon.
After attending services at Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove today, Jacobsen is scheduled to depart for London, where he will meet with Terry Waite, the special envoy of the Anglican Church. Waite was instrumental in negotiating for Jacobsen's release. In London, Jacobsen will try and assist with negotiations for the release of the other American hostages.
After his news conference on Thursday, Jacobsen joined in light-hearted tributes in Huntington Beach and Westminster on Friday in his first public appearances since returning home.
He was presented with the key to the city in Huntington Beach and later, at a reception at Westminster City Hall, he was the center of an outpouring of traditional, hometown patriotism and religion.
"Anything I would say today would be an understatement of my feelings and of my emotions," Jacobsen told his audience. "I've had tremendous joy upon my release, and this is probably the second or third time I've felt like crying."