Pirate Drama Has Sailor Rethinking Career

ATM "Zahid" Reza, of West Hartford, is thinking about a career change in the wake of his ship being overrun by pirates off the coast of Somalia.

The 41-year-old Merchant Marine was the first crew member of the Maersk-Alabama to encounter a pirate., stabbing the man in the hand with an ice pick.

Reza’s wife, Elizabeth Pond-Reza, spoke to NBC Connecticut about the ordeal. "I was at work and someone came up and asked, 'How's your husband?'" she said.

Pond-Reza said it’s been a long week. "Frightening, full of anxiety and sleepless nights."

Before leaving his Maplewood Avenue home almost two months ago, Reza told a friend he knew there was a risk of pirates but thought the problem was over-hyped.

"I talked to him before he left this last time and he said "Ugh" it'll be nothing. … But when he was on the ship, he felt clear there was a significant danger and they had to be very careful. They all knew what to do in case of a pirate attack," Pond-Reza said.

Reza called his wife from the Alabama, which reached Kenya on Saturday. He's one of 19 American sailors who made it to safety after Capt. Richard Phillips told his crew to lock themselves in a cabin while he surrendered himself to safeguard the men.

Pond-Reza said her husband and the rest of the crew were relieved and overjoyed by news Phillips' safe rescue Sunday. 

"That is a big relief for all of them and me as well. That was just a concern for us. Now I eagerly await the return of my husband," Pond-Reza said.

Reza, who's from Bangladesh, began working as a Merchant Marine in 1989. Over the years, he's logged about 15 years on the high seas.

Neighbors said they want to shake his hand when he returns home.

"We're all going to start talking to him about what his adventures have been and get to know him a little better because it sounds like he has some great stories to tell," neighbor Kelly Thornton said. 

Reza’s son Isa, 6, can’t wait to hear his father’s stories as well.

"My biggest concern is how do I say, 'Dad's gotta go again' if he does?", Reza’s wife said.

Reza is cooperating with investigators in Kenya.  He’s expected to return home to West Hartford Tuesday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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