Andrea Phillips, hampered by laryngitis and emotion, was barely able to speak. Instead, a spokeswoman for her husband's shipping company, Maersk, read aloud a statement that Mrs. Phillips had written.
The captain's wife said she was grateful to the entire nation for the "outpouring of concern for my husband's safety." The blizzard yellow ribbons and the many prayers helped her remain strong, she said.
As Mrs. Phillips sat next to her son and daughter, and held her daughter's hand, spokeswoman Alison McColl gave a "special thank you" to President Obama for his personal phone call when the ordeal was over.
Much of her gratitude, however, was saved for those in the military operation that freed her husband.
"I want to thank everyone involved in the rescue," Mrs. Phillips said. She quoted her husband as saying, "I'm just a small part of this. The real heros today are the U.S. military... They are the most dedicated people around."
Captain Phillips is back on the USS Bainbridge waiting to be interviewed by the FBI. Phillips had been transferred to the nearby USS Boxer, which has superior medical facilities, but returned to the Bainbridge, the ship where the Navy SEALs orchestrated his dramatic rescue, for the interview.
There's no final word on when Phillips will be back in the US, but one source says it likely won't be Tuesday.
Two sources told ABC News that the United States is considering prosecuting the captured pirate in a stateside court, but no final decision has yet been made.
The strain on Mrs. Phillips had been evident late last week when one of her neighbors said the wife had been "overwhelmed" by the long vigil.
"The past five days were extremely difficult," she said today. "We didn't know what he was enduring and that was the hardest part."
But she grinned today when McColl read, "At times we smiled when we thought of how he would tell the story with his trademark sense of humor.''
Earlier in the day, fresh details emerged about how the operation unfolded that ended the five day standoff with the pirates who had grabbed her husband and tried to take him to Somalia for ransom.
With one pirate pointing an AK-47 at Richards' back, three Navy snipers took advantage of the pirates' momentary carelessness and shot all three dead simultaneously.
Vice Adm. Bill Gortney said today that each sniper, who he described as "extremely, extremely well-trained," fired only one shot.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaking today at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico said of the rescue mission, "It was textbook."
"They were patient. They got the right people and the right equipment in place, and then did what they do," Gates said.
Cheers erupted around the world: on the Bainbridge in the Indian Ocean, on Phillips' ship the Maersk Alabama in the port of Mombasa, Kenya, and loudest of all in Phillips' hometown of Underhill, Vt., where cars honked their horns in celebration.
Obama began a news conference on transportation funding today by saying how "very proud" he was of the job carried out by the military.