Buffalo Man Part of "Captain Phillips": Real Life Pirate Story

2:21 AM, Oct 12, 2013   |    comments
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Buffalo, NY -- The movie, "Captain Phillips," about the captain and crew of a U.S. Merchant Marine ship taken captive in 2009 by Somali pirates opened Friday.

Actor Tom Hanks plays Captain Richard Phillips who was held captive for nearly five days by Somali pirates.

And, there is a Buffalo connection. One of the men involved in the rescue operation is from here.

"We were going fast. For as fast as our ship could go, we were hauling," says John Siller.

"So, you knew something was up, but you didn't know what it was yet," said Channel 2's Kelly Dudzik.

"We had a feeling. I mean, we had seen everything on the news. This had been the first American flagged ship that had been taken by Somali pirates," says Siller.

John Siller, a mass communication specialist in the Navy, was aboard the U.S.S. Boxer as it rushed to help free the real-life Captain Phillips.

"Once it developed into that hostage situation, where they left the ship and went onto the life boat, we were like are we going to be going here? And then, turned out, we were," he recalls.

Part of a new counter-piracy task force, Siller and a few of his colleagues were assigned to take pictures to document the events about to unfold.

"I photographed all of his mugshots for the FBI and NCIS," says Siller of the captured pirate. "My heart was beating fast. It was cool, I mean, part of me was like wow, this is awesome. I mean, it's also like you know what just happened, but you also know that you're now involved in what was a huge news story at the time."

Now, Siller's real-life experience is hitting the big screen.


"Maybe they got Denzel to play me. Just kidding. I'm sure there's no one in the movie that remotely resembles what I was doing. If there was, that would be pretty cool," he says.


Siller says Tom Hanks is one of his favorite actors, and he has pretty high expectations for the film. But, he does not want to ruin the ending for anyone unfamiliar with the story.


Siller says investigators interviewed him afterwards, along with the other photographers, but he did not have to testify at the trial.


He will probably go see the movie this weekend.

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