American hostage was impoverished farmer
Source Louis Proyect
Date 04/04/13/02:08

Town Awaits Word on Man Kidnapped in Iraq

Published: April 12, 2004

MACON, Miss. (AP) -- In his hometown in eastern Mississippi, Thomas
Hamill is known as a good guy -- a family man with two children who took
a job driving trucks in Iraq to make ends meet after his dairy farm took
a hit.

On Sunday night, several hundred friends and neighbors gathered for a
vigil outside the county courthouse to pray for the safe return of the
civilian who was taken hostage in Iraq. Many wore yellow ribbons and
scrawled notes of support for his family.

``This is a small town. It hits us hard. God bless him, he's just trying
to make a living for his family,'' said longtime resident Marion Gilbertson.

Hamill, 43, was snatched Friday by gunmen who attacked a fuel convoy he
was guarding, one of a string of kidnappings in Iraq.

His captors had threatened to kill him unless U.S. troops ended their
assault on the city of Fallujah. A deadline imposed by his abductors
came and went Sunday morning with no word of his fate.

``I'm just praying,'' said his grandmother, Vera Hamill.

Hamill works for the Houston-based engineering and construction company
Kellogg, Brown & Root, a division of Halliburton, his wife, Kellie, told
The Associated Press.

``We're just all pulling together for this man,'' said Mayor Dorothy
Baker Hines, who attended the vigil. The Hamills have a son, around 13,
and a daughter, around 11, Hines said.

The show of support was a great help to Kellie Hamill, a 911 operator in
Macon, the mayor said.

``Her spirits were lifted from what she heard about the prayer vigil,''
Hines said Monday. ``I told her if there was anything she needed to let
the community know. She told me we just need to pray for her and that's
what we're doing.''

James Jones, who went to high school with Hamill, said financial reasons
prompted his friend to go to Iraq. He returned briefly a few weeks ago
when his wife had open-heart surgery.

A Halliburton official left Hamill's house Sunday evening without

In a videotape of Hamill, broadcast Saturday on the Arab TV station
Al-Jazeera, his expression was calm but wary. A voice-over read by an
Al-Jazeera announcer quoted Hamill as saying he was being treated well.

``I am in good shape,'' the voice-over quoted him as saying. ``I hope to
return home one day, and I want my family to know that these people are
taking care of me, and provide me with food, water and a place to sleep.''

Hamill was in Lamar White's country store two weeks ago when he was home
on emergency for his wife's surgery. At the time, they talked about
Hamill's experiences in Iraq.

``He said it wasn't bad over there once you got used to it,'' White
said. ``He said it just takes a while to get adjusted but when you do
it's all right.''

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