The Rev. Lawrence M. Jenco arrived at a U.S. Air Force hospital here this afternoon to a jubilant welcome and was pronounced in satisfactory condition after his 18 months as a hostage in Lebanon. He received personal phone calls from Pope John Paul II and the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Col. Robert Gilmore, deputy director of the hospital, said Jenco, 51, appeared in "satisfactory condition" but was tired after getting little sleep during the past three days and would have to undergo several days of examination. This will include checks on his heart conditon, one of the reasons given by his Islamic Jihad captors for his release.
Jenco was released yesterday in eastern Lebanon. Syrian Army soldiers took him to Damascus, where he spent the night. He is to be reunited Monday with 10 family members flying here from Chicago after a stop in Washington.
Before leaving the Syrian capital today, Jenco said without elaborating, that he had "high hopes for the release of my three friends and fellow prisoners and other hostages."
He was accompanied on the flight to the U.S. Rhein-Main Air Base near Frankfurt today by American medical personnel and by Terry Waite, a special envoy for the archbishop of Canterbury, who has been involved in negotiations for the release of prisoners in the Middle East. It was unclear whether Waite had played any role in Jenco's release.
Arriving at the large U.S. base, the broadly smiling cleric emerged from an Air Force C9A Nightingale aircraft to a warm greeting by U.S. Ambassador to West Germany Richard Burt. A "Welcome Home" banner hung near the control tower, and a crowd of about 200 cheered the priest before he was taken in a convoy to the hospital here.
At a news conference at the hospital, Waite said the pope in his call declared that he was "pleased and satisfied" with the release, and that he continued to pray that the rest of the hostages would gain their freedom.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, who is the senior prelate of the Church of England, gave the former hostage the same general message, Waite said.
The Air Force hospital has been a center for receiving those who have been held hostage and was the medical facility to which the 52 American diplomats who had been held by the Iranians came.
As Jenco got out of a van, dozens of patients applauded from a balcony decorated with American flags.
Greeted by Col. Ralph Rothstein, commander of the hospital, Jenco seemed tired, but he smiled. Asked from a distance what was the condition of one of the American hostages, Terry Anderson, the Beirut bureau chief of The Associated Press, the Roman Catholic cleric said, "Very fine."
Then a television reporter from a Chicago station rushed past the barriers and asked him if he had any message for the people of Chicago. "Tell the people I love them," he said. "I can't wait to have the Chicago wind in my face again."
Jenco, who was head of the Beirut office of the Catholic Relief Services, a New York-based Roman Catholic charity organization, was kidnaped Jan. 8, 1985. He said in Damascus that he was held captive with Anderson, David Jacobsen, administrator of the American University Hospital in Beirut, and Thomas Sutherland, dean of the Agricultural School of the university.
As Jenco walked inside the hospital, his last words were, "Don't forget. There are three more to come."
Neither Jenco nor Waite mentioned the whereabouts of U.S. diplomat William Buckley, who was kidnaped from a Beirut street in March 1984. Buckley was said to have been killed by his captors earlier this year, but his body has never been found.
Waite said he hoped that the Islamic organizations holding the other three Americans would realize that many people had a certain amount of sympathy with some of their aspirations. But Waite could offer no specific information about how long the other three Americans would be held.
Asked whether the United States would make any concession to the captors of the other three men now known to be alive, Robert Oakley, head of the U.S. State Department's antiterrorism section, said, "We are not prepared to make a bargain of this sort."
Staff writers in Washington added:
Ten relatives of Jenco, clutching yellow carnations and wearing "Set Captives Free" pins, headed to West Germany after a brief stop here in which some accused the Reagan administration of not doing enough to speed his release and others endorsed its policy of no negotiations with kidnapers.
The relatives -- three brothers, three sisters, a brother-in-law, two sisters-in-law, and a nephew -- flew from Chicago to National Airport, where they held a news conference before a reception with State Department officials. Late in the afternoon they flew out of Andrews Air Force base on a government-provided plane for West Germany.
The family members said their persistent pressure and lobbying by their congressional delegation might have helped win Jenco's release. Joseph Jenco, 50, a brother of the freed hostage, criticized the Reagan administration for being slow to act on Jenco's behalf until pressured by members of Congress.
"They treated us like tourists when we first came to Washington," he said. He said various family members have made 29 or 30 visits to Washington.
Joseph Jenco and Andrew Mihelich, a nephew of the ex-captive, said they were satisfied with the government's recent actions.