President Donald Trump announced today that Danny Burch, a U.S. citizen who was held hostage in Yemen for 18 months, has been recovered and reunited with his family. His wife and three youngest children live in Yemen. His brother said that Danny was the kind who never made trouble and was always ready to help someone in need. Here is what you need to know about Burch.
1. Trump Said Burch Was Reunited with His Family After Being a Hostage in Yemen for 18 Months
Trump announced today that Burch was a hostage for 18 months before he was recovered with the help of the United Arab Emirates.
Trump then said that counting Burch’s release, they had secured the release of 20 Americans since his election.
2. Danny Burch Was 63 When He Was Kidnapped in 2017 After Taking His Kids to a Swimming Pool. A Truck with Five Armed Men Stopped Him on a Busy Road.
Danny Lavone Burch was 63 when he was kidnapped in September 2017, WFAA reported. He was kidnapped in Yemen’s capital city, Sanaa. He was taking his kids to an event when he was kidnapped, The New York Times reported.
Police told Burch’s wife that five armed men in civilian clothes had stopped Burch on a busy street. They were driving a pickup truck without plates, The New York Times reported at the time. Two of the men parked his car on a side street and Forsa later found the car. She said her “heart fell” when she found it. The abduction was in an area where Al Qaeda was not considered active.
His wife, Nadia Forsa, said he was kidnapped in “broad daylight in front of everyone.” He had left that morning to take his sons to a sports club and when she tried to call him, his phone had been turned off. He had just dropped his kids off at a swimming pool, Texas Monthly shared.
His brother, Ronald Burch, told KLTV that he only found out about his brother’s kidnapping when he got a text from someone who saw a story in The New York Times. He and his brother hadn’t spoken for almost 15 years, but Ronald was still very upset about the news. He said he had spoken to his family before, sharing that he was worried about a possible abduction in the area.
3. He Worked on Oil Rigs in Yemen & Had No Disputes with Anyone
Burch had worked on oil rigs in Yemen since 1994, The New York Times reported. He often traveled between the United States and Yemen, and then moved to Yemen in 2005. (His brother told KLTV that Burch had moved to Yemen in 2003.)
According to his LinkedIn, Burch had graduated from Kilgore College in Texas with an associate’s degree in math. His last job listed on LinkedIn was working as a mechanic and cement technician with SAFER. Prior to that, he worked as a cementer with Dales Oilwell Cementing and as a mechanic with Hunt Oil Company. For seven years he was the co-owner of Techniques Pump and Valve in Kilgore, Texas.
His wife told Texas Monthly that Burch hadn’t had any disputes with anyone, and he had lived in Sanaa for more than 20 years. “He has no problems or disputes with anyone, which is why he didn’t leave as others did. I ask for the release of my husband and his safe return to me,” Forsa said shortly after her husband was taken.
His brother, Ronald, agreed. He said that Danny was never the type of person who would cause problems.
His niece, Rasha al-Harazi, said that Burch was still working for SAFER, a state-run oil company, when he was kidnapped and had just returned to work a few months earlier after travel restrictions had eased.
4. He Had Converted to Islam Before He Was Kidnapped & His Wife Is from Yemen. They Have Three Young Children.
Burch’s son, Stephen Burch, told The New York Times that his dad was from Louisiana and had divorced his American wife in 2000. He didn’t have much contact with her or his two children after that. While in Yemen, he converted to Islam and married his current wife, Forsa, his son said. They had three children when he was kidnapped, ages 7, 9, and 12, his wife said.
His brother Ronald told Texas Monthly that Danny Burch fell head over heels for his wife, Nadia Forsa. They met at some point in time after his divorce. “He fell in love, man. My brother is that way. He forgot everything else in his life.”
Ronald told KLTV at the time of the kidnapping that he thought his brother would stay in Yemen even if he was released, because of his wife and children. “I think even if he gets released, he’ll stay,” Ronald said. “He knows as well as we do that that’s the price of where he’s at.”
5. Burch Was a High School Football Player & He’s a ‘Good Brother’ Who Cares for People in Need, His Family Said
Burch was from Louisiana, but he had grown up in the Longview area of Texas, Texas Monthly shared. He was an outside linebacker for White Oak High School in 1971 and his football team reached the Class A semifinals at the time. He has five younger brothers. One, Ronald, said he hadn’t heard from Burch for years but Burch is “a good brother.” He said Burch helped him during a tough time in his life.
“Danny took me in when I was down and out,” Ronald told Texas Monthly. “He took me in, gave me a place to sleep, helped me get back on my feet with a job and some of other things. He was pretty much an oilfield dad. Barely at home, always busy, always working.”
This is a developing story.