By: Sharon Aron Baron
It’s not the kind of milestone that anyone cares to celebrate, but it is one that begs to be remembered: Coral Springs resident Bob Levinson has now been held hostage for eight years. Longer than any other person in U.S. history.
On March 9, 2007, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson went missing from Kish Island, Iran, and today, on the eighth anniversary of his disappearance. The FBI has increased its reward from $1 million to up to $5 million for information leading directly to his safe location, recovery, and return. Levinson, who will turn 67 tomorrow, is now one of the longest-held American hostages in history.
“Today we mark eight years since Bob disappeared in Iran, and we are increasing the reward for his location and safe return to his family,” said FBI Director James B. Comey. “We ask anyone with information to contact the FBI. It is long past time for Bob to come home.”
In 2010, Levinson said the family received “irrefutable proof” that he was still alive via a video tape. In the video, Levinson appeared to have lost considerable weight, and repeatedly pleads for help in returning home. “In the video, in which he appears frail and visibly thinner than the 220 pounds he weighed when he was taken, my dad pleads for the U.S. government to help secure his release. In the photos, which were e-mailed to us, he is shackled. He has an unkempt beard and holds cryptic messages, the intended meaning of which we still do not understand,” said his son Dan Levinson in the Washington Post. Since that time they have not received any more videos or any substantial leads.
Bob and his wife Christine have lived in Coral Springs over 30 years and all of their children attended local Broward County Public Schools.
Each day, his Facebook page is updated by his children with the number of days their father is held in captivity and a memory or two about him. The page now has over 12,000 faithful followers who have suffered along with the family’s journey in the hopes of finding some answers, somewhere.
From the Help Bob Levinson Facebook Page
Posted below is text from a family friend Ken Parkerson, and demonstrates the impact that our Dad had on the Coral Springs community and on the elementary school all seven of us attended. Dad means so much to so many people, and we can’t wait until his safe return home.
“Recently I was talking to a school teacher at Riverside Elementary School in Coral Springs, FL. Many of Bob’s children attended elementary school there. She brought up yellow ribbons that were handed out at a Rally for Bob at the WingsPlus Restaurant in Coral Springs a couple years back. She said she still has hers on her desk at school and often tells her new students what the ribbon is all about. She told me Bob was a celebrity at Riverside Elementary. She said some students and teachers use to refer to him as “Mr. Field Day” as he always helped out with the school field days. She said in fact he was given an award by the school for his help with the field days and for always being there for the kids and the school. I still have my ribbon from the rally too. I keep it on the visor of my car. I look at the ribbon everyday to remind me that Bob is still not home. That ribbon won’t come down off my visor until the day I see Bob standing in front of Wings Plus with a big smile on his face. I hope it is very, very soon!”
Anyone with information regarding Levinson or his captors is encouraged to contact the FBI at fbi.gov. Information will be kept confidential and can be provided anonymously.