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Flight 847 Crew: Treatment Hasn’t Been Bad

June 19, 1985

NEW YORK (AP) _ The three crew members still on board hijacked TWA Flight 847 in Beirut said today that their treatment by gun-toting terrorists has not been bad and warned against a rescue attempt.

″I think we would all be dead men if they did (try a rescue) because we are continually surrounded by many, many guards,″ said Flight Captain John L. Testrake, who spoke to ABC-TV while hanging out the cockpit of the plane on a Beirut airstrip.

Testrake, First Officer Philip G. Maresca and Flight Attendant Benjamin Zimmermann spoke with three ABC correspondents after the hijackers specifically requested the reporters be brought to the plane. The three hostages are in their sixth day on the plane; passengers still in custody have been removed to an undisclosed locations.

″I’m fine, and the message to my family is they can worry a little but not too much,″ said Maresca, of Salt Lake City, who added that the gunmen on the plane were not the original hijackers. ″Our treatment has been tolerable.″

Zimmermann, 45, of Cascade, Idaho, agreed: ″Everything is OK. We’re surviving.″

Testrake, 57, of Richmond, Mo., said the crew did not know where the other hostages, including about 40 Americans, have been taken, but said they were told the others have ″been taken to a safe place, that they are comfortable and being well taken care of.″

As for his own treatment by the gunmen, Testrake said, ″I’d like my wife and my family and all of my friends back in Missouri to know the Lord has taken very good care of us so far and he has seen us through some very trying times, and he will see us through to the end.″

Julie Flint of ABC Radio, one of the three ABC reporters who walked out to the plane, described Testrake as ″looking extremly tired, but smiling a little at the window.″

The three ABC reporters - the other two were Charles Glass and Derwin Johnson of ABC’s Beirut bureau - were allowed to speak with the three men for about eight minutes before they were ordered off the tarmac at gunpoint.

Testrake told them things were fairly quiet on board the plane since the other hostages were removed.

″Not very much is happening to us now, sinceSunday night, because they removed the other passengers and took them away, and the three of us have been on the aircraft since then,″ he said. ″It’s just a case of wait and see what happens, so we’ve just been taking up quiet housekeeping on the aircraft.″