A UT student recalls what she went through aboard the USS Bainbridge, the Navy ship sent to rescue Captain Richard Phillips after he was held hostage by pirates.
The story made headlines around the world in 2009 when Somali pirates boarded the Maersk Alabama and captured Captain Phillips as a hostage. The newly released Hollywood movie has already earned millions.
And a UT student saw the whole thing happen first-hand.
"We were so close we could see them smiling," 25 year old Melina Patricio said.
Patricio was manning a .50 caliber gun at the front of the USS Bainbridge ready to pull the trigger at the pirates if given the order. That order was never given, and Patricio was happy for it.
"I mean, it was a .50 cal gun. It would have destroyed that lifeboat."
Patricio stood at her post for 60 hours as the rescuers tried to negotiate and look for ways to rescue Phillips. She said those few days alongside the lifeboat, waiting to see what the result would be, were very intense.
But then the Navy SEALS team was called in, and Patricio was relieved of her post. The lifeboat was being pulled by the USS Bainbridge and Patricio's post was at the front of the ship. She then went to watch as the SEALS team moved into action.
"The next thing you know, everybody's clapping their hands as Captain Phillips is coming on board."
Patricio recalled Phillips being a very nice man who thanked the crew repeatedly and spent time eating with them as they made their way back stateside.
She also said the movie was very accurate from her experience and her viewpoint. She was unsure about it as she went in to see it, thinking facts may be changed, but she said she was happy with how it turned out.
As for her role in the mission? Patricio said she was just doing her job.
"To me it was just like another day at the office. It just happened to be extraordinary, Patricio said.
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