RESCUES: Power of Personal Diplomacy

Under a searing African sun last July, Eritrean rebels burst into a U.S. naval radio station near Asmara, Ethiopia, and seized Steven Campbell, 27, a civilian technician, and another American, James Harrell, 41. The kidnapers' apparent motives: extort ransom from the U.S. and end American aid to Ethiopia. They dragged both men across 100 miles of desert in twelve days to a tent outpost. There the guerrillas held them virtually incommunicado on a diet of rice and canned vegetables.

On hearing the news, Campbell's father Len, 54, of Bettendorf, Iowa, started an epic one-man campaign to win his son's freedom. An...