Captain Richard Phillips will attend a private gathering with the primary sponsors of the 33rd Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner at the Johnson, Abdallah, Bollweg & Parsons, LLP Law Firm in downtown Sioux Falls on November 12, 2014.
After the reception, Captain Phillips will present the keynote address at the Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner and Children’s Charity Fundraiser held at the Ramkota Exhibit Hall in Sioux Falls. The event is organized each year by the Abdallah family.
Phillips served as captain of the Maersk Alabama, highjacked in 2009 by Somali pirates off the coast of Africa. His riveting story was made famous by actor Tom Hanks in last year’s Oscar-nominated film, “Captain Phillips.”
For five days in April 2009, the world was glued to television screens as Captain Phillips became the center of an extraordinary international drama involving the first hijacking of a U.S. ship in more than 200 years.
It began on Wednesday, April 8th, when a small band of pirates aboard a skiff swung grappling hooks and climbed ropes onto the Maersk Alabama, a container ship ferrying food aid to East Africa, firing into the air as they leapt aboard. Many of the crew members scrambled into a designated safe room aboard the vessel.
On the bridge, the pirates held four sailors at gunpoint, but the ship’s crew of twenty outnumbered the four attackers. They managed to wound the leader of the pirates in the hand with an ice pick and regain control. The crew demanded the other pirates leave the ship, but the pirates had scuttled their own small boat. They demanded an escape boat, fuel and food.
To protect his crew, Captain Phillips made the decision to put himself directly into harm’s way, knowing he might pay the ultimate price. Amid the standoff, he offered himself as a hostage. Serving as a human shield in a small lifeboat with three pirates, he had little to hope for or cling to — except the knowledge that he had done everything he could to save the lives of his crew.
The U.S. Navy responded to the scene and negotiations were ongoing between the pirates and the captain of the U.S.S. Bainbridge. At one point, Captain Phillips jumped out of the lifeboat and managed to swim a few yards toward the nearby destroyer, but the pirates went in after him and managed to haul him back in. The standoff dragged on for several more days, when Navy SEAL snipers saw one of the pirates aim his AK-47 machine gun at Captain Phillips's back and concluded he was in “imminent danger.”
President Obama, who spoke with Captain Phillips after he was freed, said, "I share the country's admiration for the bravery of Captain Phillips and his selfless concern for his crew. His courage is a model for all Americans."
Phillips is a graduate of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, a member of the International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots Union, and a licensed American merchant mariner. In 1987, he married Andrea Coggio. They have two children, Mariah and Danny, and live in Vermont. He is also the author of A Captain’s Duty: Somali Pirates, Navy SEALs, and Dangerous Days at Sea, about his remarkable experience, on which the successful film was based.
To date, the Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner and Children’s Charity Fundraiser has raised nearly $2,000,000 for children’s charities throughout South Dakota. The event sells out each year. Attendance is expected to be 2,000 guests, making this one of the largest law enforcement events of its kind in the nation.
Proceeds from the event will go to the South Dakota Special Olympics, Children’s Miracle Network, Ronald McDonald House, Muscular Dystrophy Youth Summer Camp, and the Make-A-Wish Foundation of South Dakota.
It is great to work with the attorneys at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah. They always provide excellent advice and service that is second to none.
The lawyers at Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah are consistently ranked as the top business lawyers in the state. Our business can always count on them to aggressively fight for our rights and provide straight-forward advice on complex issues.
Lawyers from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah regularly participate in legal education by judging intramural student skills competitions; helping prepare our nationally competitive litigation skills teams; serving or leading the South Dakota State Bar's Law School Committee; and, from time to time , providing guest lecturers. The Law School is grateful for the generous participation of lawyers like those from Johnson, Janklow, and Abdallah.