From the blaring of "Sweet Home Alabama" on the decks of the USS Bainbridge in Mombasa, Kenya, to the tearful reunion of the crew members and their families in Maryland, the captain and crew who fought off pirates in a hostage standoff last week have gotten closer to the place they've all wanted to be -- home.
While Capt. Richard Phillips, still onboard the Bainbridge this morning, has yet to set foot on American soil since he was rescued from the clutches of four barefoot Somali pirates, his crew landed at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland this morning and were immediately embraced by their tearful families.
"It was emotional seeing my little boy," Ken Quinn told "Good Morning America" after he was welcomed by wife Zoya and his children. "He loves me so much and misses me so much, it was just -- you know how it is -- good to see him."
His 3-year-old son doesn't yet know what a pirate is, but he will -- when he's old enough.
"I'll tell him the story from start to finish," Quinn said.
The crew arrived shortly after midnight to cheers, hugs and smiles. They waved as they left the plane and onlookers waved American flags.
It has been an odyssey for the entire group that has taken them halfway around the world and back again.
"I felt like I was a worker doing my job and now it doesn't make sense," Quinn said. "It's good and everything. If you're a movie star you expect that stuff every day but just Joe Blow on the street it doesn't happen to us."
While third mate Colin Wright told "Good Morning America" in an exclusive interview Wednesday that he didn't want the experience to keep him from sailing the world's oceans, Quinn isn't so sure -- at least not without some protection.
"We'd have ... some kind of Plexiglas thing," Quinn said. "It would be a good idea to be armed."
But he recognizes that even that kind of protection could up the ante for the pirates, who have so far have not been interested in killing their hostages.
"We start shooting at them and they might start killing more seaman," he said.
Phillips' homecoming was delayed after the USS Bainbridge had to divert from its path to Kenya to aid another U.S. ship, the Liberty Sun, which was able to fend off a pirate attack earlier this week.
Journalists crowded around the port in Mombasa, anxiously looking for any sign of the captain. Also gathered were many Kenyans, who seemed more amused by the ship's grand entrance than who was on it.
"They never come in with all this loud music," port worker Francis Oyunde said. "This ship must be very special."
Phillips never emerged publicly, even from a distance. Investigators boarded the Bainbridge after it docked and there were reports that he then secretly disembarked and was whisked away. Maersk has confirmed that Phillips will be taking a charter flight from Mombasa back to the United States and reuniting with his crew.
Wright and Shane Murphy, the Maersk Alabama's second-in-command, told "Good Morning America" in Wednesday's exclusive interview that they had no regrets about the deaths of three of the pirates who ultimately shot by Navy snipers, saying the men got greedy when they decided to take Phillips, the ship's captain.
Two crew members said the Somali pirates were given many chances to leave. But, instead, in a moment that was not planned or calculated by any of the Americans onboard, the four Somali pirates took Capt. Phillips instead.