30 Years Later, Jackson Reunites With Released Air Force Pilot
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CHICAGO (CBS) — On January 4, 1984, the Rev. Jesse Jackson brought then Navy Lt. Robert Goodman home. Jackson had negotiated Goodman’s release after he was held captive in Syria.
As CBS 2’s Suzanne Le Mignot reports, both men were reunited today, after three decades.
“I’m certainly glad to be here first of all,” said Retired Navy Lieutenant. Commander Robert Goodman. “There was no previous template for this strike, for this event, for this release,” said Goodman.
Rev. Jesse Jackson and Goodman haven’t seen each other since Jackson negotiated the pilot’s release from Syria 30 years ago. Goodman had been shot down over Lebanon and taken hostage.
“The plane was hit in the rear section with a surface to air missile,” said Goodman. “When I ejected from the airplane, we were going about 450 miles an hour.”
“Later that morning, I was brought up to a room and interrogated.”
Rev. Jackson says he went to Syria on the wings of faith, that he <could negotiate Goodman’s release.
“President Reagan’s position was we really shouldn’t go because while your mission is high purpose, you don’t know what you’re doing. If you go and make a mistake, the burden will be upon you. You could get him hurt,” said Jackson.
Reagan invited Goodman and Jackson to the White House after the release. Jackson says he negotiated with Syrian President Assad, for about three days.
“I leaned heavily upon him to not let us go back empty handed,” said Jackson. “Our mission was noble. It was for the best in our own country and for the best of Syria at the same time and because of that, Mr. Assad let him go.”
Rev. Jackson says after Goodman’s release, President Reagan asked him, what can I do for you? Rev. Jackson told the President, do a very special favor, call President Assad and say, “Thank you.” Jackson says that phone call led to continued dialogue between both presidents.