COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI)-The small town of Macon became nationally known when one of their own residents became a hostage in Iraq in 2004. Nine years later Tommy Hamill, sits down with WCBI’s Heather Black to tell us how life his been since his return home.
“A road I had been on many times just north of Baghdad. The convoy attack was severe. A lot of trucks were getting hit. Just in a little while I’m in the hands of an Iraqi insurgents,” says Tommy Hamill.
On April 9, 2004, civilian Tommy Hamill’s convoy was ambushed while on a mission to deliver fuel to American troops at Baghdad International Airport.
After being taken hostage, Hamill recalls feeling hopeless, but says he couldn’t give up.
“The first thought to through my mind was I’m never going to survive this. I’m never going to see my family again. Then it was the survival mode. I’ve got to survive one day at a time,” says Hamill.
As Hamill’s family and Americans waited for news on his condition, Tommy says he relied on his faith to get him through.
“I put my faith first and talked with God everyday over there. I didn’t have anybody else to talk to. And we had a lot of conversations for three weeks, but he gave me the faith and strength to get through,” says Hamill.
Looking back on his experience, Tommy considers himself lucky compared to those who became prisoners of war during Vietnam and World War II, but says there is one difference between the two.
“For civilians, when they send us off to deploy to war situations like that we all come back individually. Some reconnect and we try to talk about the days when we were there. Somebody that knows and somebody who has been there who knows what’s going on verses talking to somebody out here that’s never been there or don’t know what you’ve been through or what you’ve seen,” says Hamill.
No matter what he went through Hamill says life is back to normal.
“I just moved on. It’s been 9 years ago. I got back to work. It took me two years of some surgeries to get my arm where I could go back to work and I’m a guy that doesn’t stand around and let grass grow under my feet,” says Hamill.
While Iraq is thousands of miles away, those who sacrificed the most are never far from his mind.
“I’ve seen a third world country and I’m thankful that I live in a country that’s free and we have men and women that are willing to put their lives on the line to go to keep us free and others around the world,” says Hamill.
Five truck drivers and two soldiers were killed in the attack. Four more men were missing, including Hamill.