Los Angeles Times

Wife of Escaped Hostage Heads to Germany

Hours before Kellie Hamill left Mississippi for Texas on the first leg of a journey to Germany and a reunion with her husband, Thomas Hamill called home with a mild warning for his family.

"He said he's doing good but that he had lost a little weight in all this," said his mother, Phyllis Hamill, who spoke with her son Monday, then turned the phone over to her daughter-in-law.

"His kids looked at the picture on television and said with the beard and all, it didn't look like daddy. But he looks pretty good to me."

Thomas Hamill, a contract truck driver who spent three weeks in captivity in Iraq before managing his own escape, arrived Monday at a military hospital in Germany for a checkup and treatment of a gunshot wound.

Marie Shaw, spokeswoman for the U.S. military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, said Thomas Hamill would likely be able to return home by the end of the week.

The 43-year-old civilian contractor was expected to reunite with his wife at Landstuhl on Tuesday, officials said.

"This has been answered prayer," Kellie Hamill said Sunday night. "I can't wait to see him and get him home."

Phyllis Hamill said her daughter-in-law's would get a passport and travel papers in order in Houston before leaving for Germany.

In an interview Monday night on CNN's "Larry King Live," Thomas Hamill's aunt, Coleene Higginbotham, said her nephew "seems to be in very good condition. Kellie has talked to him several times and she says he talks just like his normal self." But she said Hamill's wife had not yet left Houston.

Hamill's cousin, Rhonda Cooper, added the family doesn't know exactly when they'll see Hamill: "I guess it just depends on how long it takes them to work on him in the hospital."

Hamill's father-in-law, Wallace Green of Garland, Texas, said the wait for news about Thomas Hamill had been agonizing.

"It was like having a house sit upon your shoulders. You did not know one day to the other whether Tommy was alive or not," he told Dallas-Fort Worth TV station KXAS.

Thomas Hamill escaped by prying open the doors of the house where he was being held late Sunday morning and ran a half-mile to a U.S. military convoy passing by near the town of Balad north of Baghdad.

He had been captured April 9 by gunmen who attacked the supply convoy he was driving.

Phyllis Hamill said her son told family members that he had attempted an escape earlier and had managed to get out of the building where he was being held.

"He said it was really dry and he had no food or water," she said. "He said he heard a helicopter flying around and tried to attract attention and couldn't do it. He felt his best chances was to go back where they had held him. They moved him to another place and left him alone and that's when he escaped."

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