Initial exam shows Jenco 'satisfactory'
Stars and Stripes July 28, 1986
LINDSEY AS, Germany — The Rev. Lawrence M. Jenco "appears to be in satisfactory condition" considering that he has been in captivity for 19 months and that he has not slept in three days, an official of the Air Force Regional Medical Center in Wiesbaden said Sunday night.
Although doctors did not believe his life is in imminent danger, there was concern about the 51-year-old Jenco's heart disease.
"Suffice it to say he was released because of his poor health," said Dr. (Col.) Robert Gilmore, director of hospital services at the medical center. "The severity of his heart disease bears looking at."
Gilmore said hospital personnel worked with Jenco for only a "short period of time" Sunday because of Jenco's fatigue. Jenco underwent general physical and heart tests. Gilmore said Jenco will probably remain at the medical center for several days.
Gilmore made his comments in a news conference at 9:15 p.m., five hours after Jenco arrived at the medical center. Also speaking in the news conference were Terry W. Waite, the special envoy of the archbishop of Canterbury and Robert Oakley, the U.S. ambassador at large for counter-terrorism.
"Father Jenco is now at liberty. At the moment he's resting," Waite said.
Waite flew in from Syria with Jenco aboard a U.S. Air Force medical evacuation aircraft Sunday afternoon. Waite said Jenco reported that the other three Americans being held hostage in Lebanon are "OK."
"He said to me they're fine. Naturally, they're not rejoicing every day of their captivity," Waite said.
After Jenco arrived at the medical center, he received two special telephone calls — one from Pope John Paul II and the other from the archbishop of Canterbury.
The pope "expressed, his great pleasure and satisfaction" at Jenco's release and said he continued to pray for the release of the other hostages, Waite reported.
Jenco's family was scheduled to arrive early Monday morning in Frankfurt on a special plane provided by the White House, Oakley said. The U.S. government is continuing its quiet diplomatic efforts for the release of the other hostages, he said.
"We're pleased Father Jenco has been released. We won't be satisfied until everyone is released," Oakley said.
Oakley said he could not say whether the other hostages are at greater or lesser risk at this time.
"I wouldn't want to characterize it. The situation in Lebanon changes all the time," Oakley said.
Waite said, "The situation in Lebanon is always dangerous. You never take it for granted."
Waite said that Jenco wanted to make it clear that the churches are trying to understand the problems of Lebanon and want to "see healing and peace."
Jenco and other church workers are praying for continued understanding of Lebanon and the release of the other hostages, Waite said.
"It's wrong for Christians and Moslems to fight each other. This release is an indication of the compassion of Islam," Waite said.