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'I Was Fearing the Worst': A Son Is Freed in Iran


We're joined by the father of one of those British service members, 21-year-old Royal Navy sailor Nathan Summers. His father, Roy Summers, is on the phone from the town of Hayle in Cornwall, England. And Mr. Summers, this must be an amazing day for you.

Mr. ROY SUMMERS (Father of Nathan Summers): This is absolutely a really joyous day. Now, I'm just waiting for a phone call to have a chat with him.


BLOCK: And what do you want to hear from him when you do talk to him?

Mr. SUMMERS: I just want to hear his voice, just can't wait to see him.

BLOCK: How did you hear that Nathan was going to be released?

Mr. SUMMERS: Well, actually, we was working yesterday and my manager's wife in Worth(ph) rang him to say they're going to free the Navy personnel, and that's the first I heard of that. So within about an hour after hearing it, you know, I was allowed to come home and face the media, basically.

BLOCK: Is it the kind of thing that when you hear it, you just can't quite believe it's true?


Mr. SUMMERS: I honestly couldn't believe it's true until I actually came home and seen it on the, you know, on the news channels.

BLOCK: This has been a two-week ordeal for you. I'm trying to imagine what those two weeks must have been like.

Mr. SUMMERS: It's been very up and down, and sheer hell, to be perfectly honest. We're just so pleased now that it has happened and finished peacefully, to be honest.

BLOCK: Did you see your son on TV when he was being held captive by the Iranians?

Mr. SUMMERS: When they did the first showing of the captives, Nathan wasn't in the picture at all, and I was really worried then. But when he was actually showed on the TV making a statement, I mean, it was such a relief just to see how well he was looking. They definitely wasn't him saying, you know, it wasn't his words, put it that way, of what he was saying. It was all scripted, definitely.

BLOCK: I gather in that statement, he said that British forces had trespassed into Iranian waters, and it sounds like what you're saying is you know that he would never have said that.

Mr. SUMMERS: They was all prompted to their confessions. I mean, who was actually in the wrong? You know, was it the British navy, or was it the Iranians just making it up. I just think nobody's going to really know the truth on this.

BLOCK: You know, there's something very odd about how this all unfolded at the end, with them getting these gray suits from the Iranian government and these sort of gift bags. What do you make of all that?

Mr. SUMMERS: I think they look very smart. They look - to be perfectly honest. I really do. I think it looks nice.

BLOCK: But it is - it didn't strike you as bizarre, though, that here, your son have been held captive by these people for about two weeks and they're sending him off with a gift bag.

Mr. SUMMERS: Yeah, it was a very strange sort of ending. I don't know. Was it a good will gesture or not? I'm not really sure.

BLOCK: You were telling me a little earlier that this was your son's first deployment with the navy?

Mr. SUMMERS: Yes, first major deployment. I mean, he's done a little tour, which wasn't much, but this is supposed to be a 10-month tour. And I think he's been into it for about three weeks, or something like that. And now he's just had two weeks' holiday, really, because he hasn't done nothing.

BLOCK: I don't know if you'd consider it a holiday, but...

Mr. SUMMERS: No, I wouldn't. That was a joke, but, you know, he got paid for it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SUMMERS: No, I would have swapped places. I would have swapped places with him, if he could be home. I mean, I'd rather it be me than my own son out there.

BLOCK: Do you think he'll be ending up going back to the region?

Mr. SUMMERS: I think he will, yeah. I mean, I think it just turned him from a boy into a man, to be perfectly honest. You know, the whole 14 of them have been through such a traumatic experience. And the bond between them there must be absolutely fantastic, you know.

BLOCK: Well, what's going on right now in the town of Hayle there in Cornwall?

Mr. SUMMERS: Where Nathan used to work. He used to work in a pub called The Cornubia. We had a little party last night, which we're all worse for wear. We're just getting in practice for when he actually comes home. And there's banners, there's yellow ribbons tied outside the pub. And there's a massive big banner, which is up at the moment, it says: Welcome home, Nathan. In the pub, the landlord says these, put that up, just in case Nathan gets lost again.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: And maybe just one or two drinks on the house, I'm guessing.

Mr. SUMMERS: There was a lot of drinks on the house last night and it's going to be quite a few more when he's back home.

BLOCK: Well, Roy Summers, congratulations on your son's return, and best of luck to you.

Mr. SUMMERS: Thank you ever so much.

BLOCK: Roy Summers is the father of Nathan Summers, one of the 15 British service members who returned to Britain today after being detained by Iranian authorities.

(Soundbite of music) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.