Hero's Wife Speaks Out About High Seas Hostage Ordeal

This is a rush transcript of "Geraldo At Large," from April 18, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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The following transcript is Geraldo's interview with William Rios -- survivor of the recent Somali pirate hijacking -- and his wife Sherry.

GERALDO RIVERA, HOST: Two of the happiest people — two of the happiest people in New York, Sherry and William Rios. Uh, William, of course, a crewman onboard the Mersk Alabama. Uh, the most dramatic hostage rescue situation perhaps in, uh, in modern naval history. Sherry, first of all, how did you react when you heard that William and the vessel had been seized by the pirates?

SHERRY RIOS, WIFE: I was in shock. My heart dropped and then when I heard pirates, I thought it was a joke until I turned on a TV and saw this was real. And I couldn’t believe it. I was really in shock. All the years I was with him, the 20 years that he sailed, this had never happened before. So I was really in shock and I really felt like I wasn’t gonna see him again.

RIVERA: So, tell me then your reaction when you heard that at least he and the other, uh, of the 19 crewmen had been rescued.

S. RIOS: I wasn’t satisfied with that cause it was a phone call from a personnel. My heart was lifted a little bit but until I saw him myself on TV or spoke to him in person, heard his voice, I wasn’t satisfied with that.

RIVERA: When you heard his voice?

S. RIOS: We were screaming. I was screaming, he was trying to tell me he’s okay but I was just screaming, thank God he’s okay. And I just was overwhelmed. It’s like I started rejoicing immediately.

RIVERA: And then came the drama with Captain Phillips and then the rescue of Captain Phillips and did that provide the icing on your cake?

S. RIOS: Yes. The thing is, when he was finally rescued and I heard his voice on the phone, we still were praying for the captain. So it’s still like the ordeal wasn’t over yet until all the crew members as well as the captain were all safe together. So when the captain was rescued, you would have thought that was my father cause we all rejoiced again. Like we knew him personally even though I’d never met him. But we rejoiced again when the captain was rescued.

RIVERA: Even to this moment, do you believe that this — you had this fairy tale ending?

S. RIOS: No, I still think I’m in the twilight zone. I’m trying to wake up.


RIVERA: You gonna go back out there?

WILLIAM RIOS, RESCUED SAILOR: Yes indeed. I’m a sailor. I’ve been doing this — my whole youth been at sea. I just want the government, Homeland Security, look at this issue, to protect us.

Not just us, Americans. Cause when we say merchant Marines, I’m talking about all them sailors out there whether they Yemen, Arab, Spanish, French, Russian — we all brothers of the sea. We all brothers at the sea. We don’t care about nationality, country. We all sailors. So I want all the nations to get together and protect these waterways for all the merchant Marines out at sea.

RIVERA: Welcome home, sailor.

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