Captain in pirate rescue praises everyday heroism of virtue
Capt. Richard Phillips (R), with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Frank Castellano. Credit: US Navy.
Capt. Richard Phillips (R), with U.S. Navy Cmdr. Frank Castellano. Credit: US Navy.

.- The U.S. Navy captain who led the successful effort to rescue a cargo ship captain captured by Somali pirates says Catholic men can be heroes in everyday life through fatherhood and self-sacrifice.

“You don’t have to be a captain of a naval warship or the president of a company or anything else to be a hero,” Capt. Francis X. Castellano told the Knights of Columbus in an interview.

Castellano, 45, commanded the USS Bainbridge, a guided missile destroyer, in the successful effort to rescue cargo ship captain Richard Phillips from pirates off the coast of Somalia in 2009.

“Every day we can do something little by little, to go ahead and show heroic traits, and just be who we are, be Catholic men of faith.”

“I think all fathers are heroes to their families,” he continued. “Their children and their spouses look up to them. I think our call to heroism every day in our lives is to be continuing members of the community, to stand up for what we believe in, to be role models as parents, and role models in the community, helping the less fortunate and giving our time back.”

In April 2009, four pirates had attempted to hijack the cargo ship Maersk Alabama, but Phillips’ crew had retaken their vessel and captured one pirate. The remaining pirates took Phillips as a hostage and fled the ship on a lifeboat.

The Bainbridge pursued the pirates. After a tense standoff in which the pirates repeatedly threatened the cargo ship captain’s life, U.S. Navy forces killed the pirates and freed Phillips on Easter Sunday.

The story of the pirate attack is dramatized in the new movie “Captain Phillips,” with actor Tom Hanks starring in the title role. Castellano’s part is played by Yul Vazquez.

Castellano, a former altar boy who now serves as an usher, lector, and extraordinary minister of Holy Communion, said his faith helped him in the crisis.

“Being a Catholic is important to me. In terms of the rescue mission for Capt. Richard Phillips, my Catholic faith and being a Knight of Columbus played a big role in what I believed in, that we wanted to bring Capt. Phillips back home safely to his family and protect the greater good.”

Castellano grew up at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Patchogue, N.Y., where his great uncle was a priest and pastor.

“My mother was the secretary at the parish, so growing up I spent a lot of time in the rectory, and being raised around the Catholic Church, and I think that has imbued me with positive values.”

His home parish is now St. Mark’s Catholic Church in Virginia Beach, Va.

He has been a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal charitable organization, for 27 years. He praised the organization’s “fraternity and its service” and its ability to provide a support network for its members.

Castellano has been married to his wife Lisa for 22 years, and they have two daughters.

“My wife has been very strong and supportive of the family as I progressed in my career,” he said. “I have been on a lot of sea duty, which means long periods away from home, and my wife has raised our daughters a lot of times on her own, and they are now wonderful young ladies.

“We try as much as we can to all have dinner together when I am home, and to discuss what we have done throughout our day so that way we can spend that time together.”

The Navy captain also shared his vision of fatherhood.

“Being a father is very important and comes with obligations to be a role model for your children, to go to church, show your faith, pray with your family, and be there in their times of need. You want the best for your children, and the best way to do that is to be a great example for them.”

Castellano said he does not consider himself a hero for his role in the rescue. Rather, he praised the Maersk Alabama sailors who were untrained for the situation yet still recaptured their ship. He also praised the Navy’s Special Forces.

“Those men are incredible. They are titans of our country, and we should be very, very proud that we have them on our side.”

He praised “the professionalism and the teamwork” of his crew and of everyone involved in the rescue operation.

“I am so proud of the team that was supporting me on board Bainbridge, that we could actually bring Capt. Richard Phillips home to his family.”

Tags: Somalia, Richard Phillips, Captain Phillips

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Saint John Paul II on cartoon

Liturgical Calendar

July 28, 2014

Monday of the Seventeenth Week in Ordinary Time

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 13:31-35


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Jer 13: 1-11
Gospel:: Mt 13: 31-35

Saint of the Day

St. Victor I, Pope »


Homily of the Day

Mt 13:31-35


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: