Escape in Iraq

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9780883173145: Escape in Iraq
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A civilian employee working for contractor KBR in Iraq tells the story of his capture, imprisionment, and escape from terrorists after his fuel truck convoy was attacked near Baghdad International Airport on April 9, 2004.

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About the Author:

Thomas Hamill grew up on a dairy farm in Noxubee County, Mississippi. He began his work career as a carpenter and became a truck driver at an early age. In common with many American family farmers, he worked multiple jobs to augment farm income. He made long distance runs as a truck driver while continuing to manage his dairy farm. In 2003 he went abroad to support his country's fight for Iraqi freedom, and to earn enough money to save his farm. Hamill has been married to his wife Kellie for 17 years and has two children, a son and a daughter, --Thomas age 14, and Tori, who is 12. A quiet man of deep and abiding faith, Thomas Hamill's life revolves around his reverence for God and his family.

T. Brown of Brandon, Mississippi, is a widely published, award-winning and nationally acclaimed author and photographer. His work has earned numerous national and regional awards including honors from the Outdoor Writers Association of America and the Southeastern Outdoor Press Association.

Review:

Escape in Iraq is tale of heroism Thomas Hamill is a commercial truck driver and dairy farmer from Macon, Mississippi. In late 2003, he began driving in Iraq for a civilian company delivering military supplies to coalition troops. On April 9, 2004 (ironically, the first anniversary of the fall of Baghdad), Tommy's convoy came under fire on its way to the Baghdad International Airport. His truck destroyed and seriously wounded in the arm, Tommy was captured by insurgents who threatened to kill him unless operations against Fallujah ceased. "Escape in Iraq" is the day-by-day account of Hamill's 24 days in captivity and escape. Told in the alternating voices of Tommy and his wife, Kellie, "Escape in Iraq" is about an ordinary guy facing death with extraordinary faith and courage. Meanwhile, Kellie endures a life turned upside down, an uncertain future and the ensuing media frenzy. It is about the miracle of a small town whose residents, regardless of faith or race, rally around the Hamill family to provide physical and spiritual support. Most revealing is Tommy's growing realization that he and his captors are more alike than not and in other circumstances could have been friends. The many illustrations, including family photographs, bring an added dimension to Hamill's account. "Escape in Iraq," is an inspiring account of true heroism that anyone will appreciate. -- Sandy Smith, The Lodi News-Sentinel (Lodi, CA), January 8, 2005

Thomas Hamill's story is much more than a harrowing tale of war, though it is that. Hamill's story is a story of faith. "Escape in Iraq: The Thomas Hamill Story" is a testimony of his deep, unwavering faith - a faith that not only allowed him to withstand 24 days of grueling captivity amidst the horrors of the Iraq War, but actually gave him the inner peace to deal with his seemingly intolerable situation. -- Danny McKenzie, The NE Mississippi Daily Journal (Tupelo, MS), October 31, 2004

When Mississippi dairy farmer Thomas Hamill suddenly found himself a captive in Iraq on Good Friday, April 9, 2004, he was determined not to plead for his life as others had done. In fact, he would not plead for anything, not even for food or water. When shortly after his capture a menacing Iraqi man repeatedly screamed at him, "I will hang you from the bridge in Fallujah tomorrow," the American civilian contractor simply fixed him with a cold stare until he went away. As it happened, perhaps because he showed no fear and also no pain despite a severe wound to his right arm, Hamill was not asked to plead for his life, only to read a statement before a camera. He agreed to read the statement but added an ending of his own. "God bless," he said, at the conclusion. The ad lib caused considerable anger among the Iraqi insurgents, who spent hours working to delete the religious statement from the tape. Hamill's harrowing Iraq experience is recounted in Escape in Iraq: The Thomas Hamill Story. The book provides a rare and instructive glimpse inside the Iraqi insurgency. It also shows how a common, but far from ordinary, man was able to harness the power of faith to overcome fear and adversity. Lured by the high wages of a convoy truck driver, Hamill had come to Iraq hoping to save his family farm from bankruptcy. However, a massive attack on his fuel convoy took him out of the frying pan and into the fire. While a captive, Hamill met both humane and murderous Iraqis. He was quick to size up each of his many guards. Some he could converse with openly. Others he found it safer to avoid even looking in their direction. He developed an instinctive captive's etiquette that seemed to work well with the insurgent mentality, showing neither fear nor disrespect for his captors. At one point, when a gun accidentally was left in his cell, Hamill decided not to pick it up and use it. "I went to Iraq to work, to make a better life for my family," he writes, "not to take a life." He would wait for a better escape opportunity. Juxtaposed with Hamill's own situation is the story of his family back home, their difficulties in not knowing whether he was alive or dead, and their problems dealing with the press. They also received unbelievable support from their community and friends, who brought them food, cleaned their house, mowed their lawn, and even power-sprayed and painted their house! Hamill's trials included being locked in an ovenlike prison with little ventilation and 120-degree heat, nights spent painfully shackled (after his captors learned about Abu Ghraib), and having to administer his own antibiotic injections to treat his festering wounded arm. But his also was a learning experience. Eating an Iraqi diet of clabbered milk and stewed tomatoes, dipping out of the same bowls with his captors, sometimes sleeping among them on thin mats on stone floors, he found cultural traits such as tight-knit extended families that he believes America has sadly lost. Hamill's escape after 24 days was a tonic to Americans. His book is a tonic as well. In it we meet a humble man of courage, simple faith, and moral uprightness, a paragon of those qualities we all like to believe are the true hallmark of the American character. -- Saturday Evening Post, November-December 2005

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