American Hostage Escapes in Iraq

05-02-04 - (Baghdad, Iraq-AP) -- A U.S. military official says hostage Thomas Hamill escaped his Iraqi captors and then led U.S. troops to the house where he'd been held.

Major Neal O'Brien says Hamill approached a U.S. patrol in the town of Balad, about 35 miles south of Tikrit. O'Neal says Hamill identified himself and then led the patrol to the house where he had been held captive. The unit surrounded the house and captured two Iraqis with an automatic weapon.

O'Brien says Hamill suffered a gunshot wound to his left arm that appears to be infected.

Hamill was working as truck driver for a subsidiary of Halliburton when he was captured on April ninth. Video images released the next day suggested he was wounded during the attack on his convoy in the Abu Ghraib (grayb) region west of Baghdad.

Halliburton says it feels "great joy and relief" over Hamill's escape while expressing concern about two other missing workers.

Thomas Hamill's wife says the first thing he said to her after his daring escape from his Iraqi captors was, "How are you doing?"

Kellie Hamill says her husband was more worried about his family than what he went through during his three-week ordeal.

Hamill says she was awakened today at her Macon, Mississippi, home with news of his escape, calling it "the best wake-up call" ever. She says her husband sounded "wonderful."

Twelve-year-old Tori Hamill got to talk to her father. She says she told him she loved him.

Kellie Hamill later went to church. The congregation at Calvary Baptist had prayed for her husband around the clock. A church deacon says he was in bed when his wife ran down the hall yelling, "Tommy is free."

Macon Mayor Dorothy Baker Hines says as soon as Hamill is back, the town will "have a parade that will not end."


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