View Full Version : Thomas Hamill

05-10-2004, 09:57 AM
Is there any chance in hell that this man will get the Media attention that Jessica Lynch got.

This is a partial transcript from "The Big Story Weekend With Rita Cosby," May 8, 2004, that has been edited for clarity.

RITA COSBY: And this is a Fox News Alert. Some breaking news. The very first interview with Thomas Hamill (search) who has just returned on U.S. soil. Thomas Hamill now joins me exclusively on the phone.

Mr. Hamill. Congratulations. How does it feel to be back in Macon?

THOMAS HAMILL: Itís just wonderful to be back standing on some ground that Iím used to being on. Itís wonderful. Being with my family and friends and knowing how much they supported me through this whole thing. Itís truly wonderful and truly a miracle.

COSBY: I bet overwhelming, too.

HAMILL: Thatís the whole realm of it. Itís just so overwhelming that I could bring a county and a city and the country and the whole world together over something like this. Itís truly overwhelming and truly a miracle.

COSBY: You know you symbolize so much to so many folks and the world is just so happy to see this picture that weíre shown of you here right after you escaped. Walk us through a little bit about what happened, the ambush and the captivity.

HAMILL: Well, the ambush was really horrific. I knew we were going to have some problems with some of the guys. I knew some of the guys. Friends, and Iím going to call them brothers. We were all a close-knit family there. We all talked about our families at home and our kids. And I was really concerned with that, because it was so horrific and we werenít sure what was going on with everyone and I was doing the best I could to try to control the situation, but we were just not prepared for anything like this. We werenít prepared for it. The captivity. They fed and watered me and took care of me. But these guys were keeping me hostage. I had no control over anything that was being done to me. I was not treated as badly as I thought I was going to be. But still, the mental stress from not knowing from one day to the next whether they were going to kill me. And then they told me on a daily basis that if I tried anything that they would probably kill me. And I was just praying daily, several times a day, just for the mental and physical strength to get through it. I was just looking at one day at a time. And I asked the Lord to find a time and a place and a day in the future. And that Sunday morning he had that day picked out. And that was the day I bounded for freedom.

COSBY: How many men were holding you, Thomas? And who were they? Itís still unclear, a little, who they were?

HAMILL: Well, they moved me around probably 12, 13 times, a dozen times. And most of the time, they were different. Just different individuals every time. It wasnít the same group. It was the whole ordeal.

COSBY: And how did this work? Because, would they transfer you from group to group?

HAMILL: The group that had me would move me. They would have someone that I didnít see. All they did was just transport me to another place and I would see a different group there, is how they did that.

COSBY: And what kind of surroundings were you kept in? I know at the end they said it was a house. But what were the conditions like?

HAMILL: Most of the time, it was just a little mud adobe hut, is what I would call it. I donít know if anybody knows what Iím talking about. Just a small, small little room. Sometimes it was concrete floors. Sometimes it was a dirt floor. And they always had a little pad in there that I laid down [on], Iíd lay on the floor. Most of the places they kept me were pretty much the same, the same type of building, structure.

COSBY: Give us sort of a sense of what your typical day was like. How did you pass the time?

HAMILL: Iím kind of a guy that's kind of independent, to himself, and doesnít have to have a TV in front of me or a CD player or anything like that so I was pretty comfortable with just being there all day and all night, and like I said, I was continuing to pray, continuing to believe that I was going to escape and trying to kind of manipulate these people as much as I could, to let them keep me, as long as I could, and they moved me around enough I could get in a situation or find a place that Iíd recognize from driving in Iraq. And Iíd know were I was at, and Iíd be able to get away and get to safety.

COSBY: What did you say to the captors; you were talking about manipulating them. What did you say to them, to keep you alive?

HAMILL: Theyíre all insurgents and Al Qaeda types, and stuff like that. And a lot of these people are just ordinary people like I am. Iím just a farmer from Mississippi, but they still, theyíre soldiers for that regime over there and I would try to talk them about being a farmer and how things were over here. And I just tried to relate to them to try to get them to understand me and just relate to them where I could keep them interested in me and what I was doing, and stuff like that, just to keep them letting me go from day to day until I found that opportunity to escape.

COSBY: Were they heavily armed? And were you worried that they would kill you?

HAMILL: Well, yes. They made no bones about it that they would kill me. They had AK-47s and that was basically what they had. They had, usually, most times there were two people watching me at a time. They worked in shifts and both had AK-47s. And they were either outside or in the structure with me.

COSBY: Did you have any idea that it was going to be this dangerous? As you talked about when the ambush happened, with you and your colleagues, you didnít feel prepared?

HAMILL: We werenít prepared for an ambush of that magnitude. Weíve been ambushed. When we went through the orientation process in Houston, we all knew the moneyís great, but we all knew what the risks were. We were going to be in harmís way. It wasnít like we were going over there on a big picnic and make all this money and come back without any troubles. But, itís just dangerous over there, and we all knew very well that it was dangerous.

COSBY: What did the ambush look like? From what we heard from some of the other guys ... you guys didnít see it coming and it was overwhelming; it was scary.

HAMILL: It was. The distance that they were attacking us in was far, far reaching than normal. We're usually just a short distance and weíve all gotten through it and the military are throwing everything they got at them. And by that time theyíre down ducking themselves. And then everybody gets through but it just didnít seem like we were ever going to get away from them.

COSBY: Was that the scariest time, during the ambush and right after that, or was it more as time went on for you?

HAMILL: That was pretty much the scariest. You didnít know what was going to happen from one second to the next. I was wounded in trying to do something with that to stop the bleeding, and they were still hitting us with everything they had. And we were still pushing on, trying to get through and get as far as we could get and try to get away from them.

COSBY: What happened to your colleagues; what did you see?

HAMILL: A lot of them had passed the truck I was in. We were having trouble and were breaking down. Our speed had been decreased. We were just crawling along and I was telling my driver, we canít get out of this truck, the gunfire was so horrific and the bullets were hitting the truck. I said we canít get out. Weíre not going to be safe if we get out. So weíve got to go. Weíve got to go as far as we can go and hopefully, weíll get away from them and weíll get out and get picked up, and get away from the scene.

COSBY: Weíre looking at a picture of you now, Thomas, on TV when the Australian TV [crew] came over to you and you were interviewed briefly. Thatís how we all knew that you were taken hostage. What did they say to you ó the captors that had the masks on?

HAMILL: Those captors. They didnít speak much English and they didnít say too much to me. They just pulled up where this TV crew was and I was so angry and so mad that they were there, this close after this attack. I just felt that they knew somehow that this was going to happen, and thatís why they were there, that close and that quick. And I was just quick and to the point and short, and just ready to get away from them.

COSBY: Did you ever see anyone else held hostage during your time, or were you strictly with Iraqis?

HAMILL: Strictly with Iraqis.

COSBY: Did you ever ask them about any of the others or what happened to your comrades?

HAMILL: They didnít tell me about [Pfc. Keith M.] Maupin (search). I wasnít aware that he was even part of my convoy. They told me they had another, a soldier in captivity and that was about 10 days after the attack. And thatís a good thing that they found Matt and that we know that heís still alive. Itís good that they filmed that and we know that theyíre probably doing the same thing that they did with me, theyíre just manipulating him and keeping him. Iím hoping everybodyís prayers and things are going to turn out good for Mattís family and heís going to come home one day himself, too.

COSBY: And weíre all hoping for that. And why do you think they kept you alive, and why do you think they took you hostage?

HAMILL: They didnít have much of a choice in taking me hostage. I was just left standing there in the middle. They werenít going to leave me there so they just grabbed me up. So Iím not aware of how Matt was taken. I did not see. And there wasnít word that he was captured until about 10 days later Ö And being 10 days later, that means that we were probably still being held somewhere and they were moving him around just like they were moving me around.

COSBY: Do you believe he is still alive, too?

HAMILL: Iím praying every day that heís still alive and I hope he can be as resilient and as faithful, and heís hanging in there just as I did.

COSBY: What kept you going, because you know as we look at these pictures, again as you talk to the Australian TV camera, we all said, that man is a man. He is an American. You just stood up to them. You didnít budge. You were courageous. What gave you that strength?

HAMILL: Well, I remembered the Vietnam veterans on the freedom ride home from Hanoi. And I said these men, they were truly heroes. They put up with tremendous torture. They were there for years and years and Iíve only been here for just a few days, and I just kept telling myself, if these men can put up with it, Iím going to take whatever they give me.

COSBY: Good for you. You tried to escape a couple times, right? How many times?

HAMILL: It was just one time. Iíd gotten out that day and I was just out in the middle of the desert didnít know were I was. I had just a little water. They were not bringing food every day. Iíd only had a bottle of water and Iíd been without water for the first two days, and I knew what it was going to be like without water, and that I wouldnít survive away from them. So I couldnít flag the helicopters down. And I said, well, thatís not going to work, and I said Iím going to put myself back in here. And I fixed a little door where I had escaped from and I said, well, Iíll try to get back out again tomorrow, and Iíll do this until they notice that Iíve been getting out. And so I flagged another helicopter down. But that night they came and they noticed what I had done and they moved me that night to a different location.

COSBY: Did you have any idea the world was praying for you and we had your picture up all the time?

HAMILL: I knew it was up. They told me that they had seen pictures of my wife and my kids, and my picture was up. And they mentioned that Ö there was a photo of the car and that they had my face X-ed out where they couldnít see who I was. I guess that was early on.

COSBY: Were you bound at all? Were you held in handcuffs or bound?

HAMILL: Yes ... and after that they started shackling my hands and shackling my feet at night when I slept.

COSBY: Would you go back to Iraq?

HAMILL: Yes, I would go back. I donít have a problem. You know what itís like. Thereís nothing thatís being hidden. Iíve got to make a little peace with my wife and my kids over this. I donít want any problems with them in the future; I donít want my kids worrying about this. It was different when I went over there. They really werenít worried. But since this has happened, I donít want to affect their lives.

COSBY: What would you like to say to President Bush (search)? Do you think youíll get a chance to meet him?

HAMILL: That was the main reason I went over there. President Bush has made me proud to be an American. Weíre making a stand and weíre doing the right thing.

COSBY: What do you want to say to all the other folks? Of course, you know thereís a few others still being held there.

HAMILL: Iím praying for the families ... The ones that are going over, these soldiers, if there any hostages in the future that they can resist and they can pray and they can come home like I did.

COSBY: Alright, Thomas Hamill. Thank you so much. Itís an honor to have you on, sir. And so glad youíre back safe and sound. And thank you for talking with us tonight, your first interview being back. Thank you, sir, so much.

HAMILL: Thank you so much.

COSBY: Thank you. Weíre so proud of you and Americaís proud of that man