Jessica Buchanan’s family ‘healed’ in Portland

Jessica Buchanan reunion
The Portland-born Jessica Buchanan, who was rescued after 93 days of captivity in Somalia, reunites in Portland, Ore., with her loved ones. Left to right: Amy, Jessica, John, Stephen, Erik, and Andrew Mathe.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Portland-native Jessica Buchanan, who was kidnapped by Somali pirates and rescued by Navy SEALS, came back to Oregon after the rescue — for what her family described as time to decompress.

Buchanan was an aid worker in Somalia when she was kidnapped and held captive for three months. She was freed when President Obama ordered SEAL Team 6 — the same group that killed Osama bin Laden — to rescue her in early 2012.

“I figured they were going to rape and kill me,” she told Scott Pelley on 60 Minutes Sunday night. “I just kept thinking this can’t be the end.”

Dane Poul Hagen Thisted, left, and American Jessica Buchanan. U.S. military forces flew into Somalia in a nighttime raid Jan. 25, 2012 and freed the two hostages while killing nine pirates, officials and a pirate source said. (AP Photo/Danish Refugee Council)
Dane Poul Hagen Thisted, left, and American Jessica Buchanan. U.S. military forces flew into Somalia in a nighttime raid Jan. 25, 2012 and freed the two hostages while killing nine pirates, officials and a pirate source said. (AP Photo/Danish Refugee Council)

She didn’t think  she’d make it out alive until the secret mission by the SEALS showed up on Jan. 25, 2012 — the same night as the president’s State of the Union speech.

After her rescue she was reunited with her husband in Italy, then flown to Portland for a family reunion.

Buchanan currently lives on the East Coast, but she and her sister were born in Portland and their parents worked in the community for years.

“It was just amazing hearing her story and hearing her heart and what she went through,” her brother-in-law Andrew Mathe told KOIN 6 News by phone. He said the serenity of the Pacific Northwest helped heal the whole family.

“We definitely felt like the people of Portland were so gracious and so kind to us and considerate of our privacy at the time and we really couldn’t thank them enough,” he said. “It was just a fantastic time that we had reunited with Jess after those really terrible three months.”

Buchanan’s book about the experience, “Impossible Odds,” will arrive in area bookstores on Tuesday.

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