CINCINNATI (AP) — Christian school teachers in southwest Ohio rejoiced and gave thanks on Wednesday for the rescue by U.S. Navy SEALs of former student Jessica Buchanan, who had been held hostage in Somalia.
They say months of prayers were answered with the news that the aid worker was safe. She and a Danish colleague had been kidnapped by gunmen in October, and the 32-year-old woman's health was reportedly deteriorating in captivity before the dramatic special forces rescue.
"That's about as outstanding as you can get," retired high school science teacher Roy Merrill said in a telephone interview. "That's what we call a miracle!"
Merrill and his wife, Deborah, taught at Ridgeville Christian School, a preschool-through-12 campus that closed a few years ago. It was in Springboro, about 20 miles south of Dayton.
Merrill, who taught science classes, recalled Buchanan as a student leader who was very involved in school activities and sports, including basketball and volleyball, during her high school years.
"She was an outstanding student," he said. "She had a lot of drive to get things done."
Elementary school teacher Carol Richards said Buchanan and her family were "very Christian people."
"We are so excited," she said of the news of the rescue. "Many prayers have been answered."
"We've all been praying for her," said Rick Milligan, administrator at Lebanon Christian School, near Springboro, where Richards now teaches.
Buchanan's family moved from Ohio a few years ago, and she studied at Valley Forge Christian College in Pennsylvania before going overseas.
The Rev. Don Meyer, president of the college in the Philadelphia suburbs, said Buchanan was an elementary education major and did her student teaching at Rosslyn Academy in Kenya, where "she fell in love with Africa. She could hardly talk about Africa without tears in her eyes."
Associated Press Writer Patrick Walters in Philadelphia contributed to this report.
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