WIESBADEN, West Germany — Freed hostage Robert Polhill was greeted by cheers, a plate of bacon and eggs and the first of a battery of medical tests today on his first day of freedom after three years of captivity in Lebanon.
The New York native looked tired and stumbled on the steps of the U.S. military hospital as he entered the facility after arriving in Germany. Two hours later, an official bulletin said the 55-year-old professor was "alert, stable, ambulatory and somewhat tired."
"Although he appears to be in relatively good shape, he is malnourished and mildly dehydrated," it added.
Officials said Polhill's two sons, Steven, 22, and Brian, 19, were expected to arrive in Frankfurt from New York on Tuesday.
Polhill was staying with his wife in a third-floor room at the military hospital, the same room used by David Jacobsen, an American relased in 1986.
"It's a nice room with a television," one official said. "He can go out on a balcony."
A U.S. official said Polhill slept for a few hours and then began further medical tests.
"He didn't want to be treated like a patient," said flight nurse Capt. Marjorie Graziano. "But when I told him he looked so pale that I might have to give him oxygen when we reached altitude, he said, 'I'm so pale because I haven't seen the sun in three years.' "
State Department officials chatted briefly with him, but a full debriefing had not yet started, the officials said.
Polhill arrived from Damascus after being released in Lebanon, where he had been held hostage for 1,183 days.
The officials said they did not know why Polhill had been freed instead of his fellow hostages, professors Allann Steen and Jesse Turner.
The three men were kidnaped from the campus of Beirut University College with a fourth professor, who was released in 1988.
Muslim groups are still holding 16 Western hostages, including seven Americans.
Cheering staff and patients gave Polhill and his Lebanese wife, Feryal, who accompanied him from Damascus, a rousing welcome as they stepped off a helicopter after the short trip from Rhein-Main Air Base.
Dozens of American flags fluttered from hospital balconies, and a hand-painted sign said: "Welcome home! Pray for the others."
Polhill, an avid Giants fan who carried a football given to him by the crew of the transport plane, smiled and motioned for the news media to run out for a pass.
Earlier he ate a breakfast of half a grapefruit, scrambled eggs, bacon, English muffin, milk and coffee.
A U.S. officer said Polhill was asked by staff members during his breakfast what he had missed the most while held prisoner by Muslim guerrillas.
"I have not thought about it, but I would have a hot fudge sundae each year on July 5," he said without elaborating.
One of the crew of the transport plane that flew Polhill to West Germany said the former captive smoked cigarettes and read the New York Times during the flight and also spent some time quietly with his wife.