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S.D. Relatives of Hostages Anticipate Homecomings

Even as former Kuwait hostage Jack Hogan returned home to San Diego on Tuesday to the embraces and tears of loved ones, other San Diego families have put their homecoming celebrations on hold.

Electrical engineer Randy Hampson, the 32-year-old son of Betty and Samuel Hampson of Mira Mesa, is expected to arrive in San Diego on Dec. 26--after first spending time with his girlfriend in London, his mother said.

William Armbruster, a 37-year-old U.S. Embassy worker in Kuwait and Iraq, is expected to return to the San Diego home of his parents in January, after spending Christmas with his wife’s family in Kansas City.

Deborah Saloom of Scripps Ranch decided to short-cut the homecoming and flew back East to meet her husband, B. George Saloom, a Kuwait bank executive.

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Betty Hampson said she talked to her son, who was held in a home near Baghdad with four other men since Sept. 4, Sunday night from Frankfurt, Germany. Randy Hampson had tried to escape with other Americans into Jordan, but was apprehended and ended up in Saddam Hussein’s “human shield” defense by being placed in the home near an oil refinery, his mother said.

“He’s excited, but he’s lost everything and only has the clothes on his back,” Betty Hampson said. “That’s what’s on his mind, more than anything else.

“But he’s also excited to be on the right side"--freedom, she added.

William Armbruster, who spent years in the Peace Corps in Africa, was assigned to the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait just one week before the invasion, and in mid-August joined other non-essential embassy workers who were relocated to the Embassy in Baghdad, where he continued to work as its public affairs officer.

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His wife, Lisa, was homebound at her parents’ house in Kansas City because of wrist surgery, and, for a time, William took the role of single parent for the couple’s 6-month-old daughter while working in the Middle East, said his parents, Donald and Peggy Armbruster of Serra Mesa.

On Aug. 28, women embassy workers who left the embassy in Baghdad took the baby home to Lisa Armbruster in Kansas City, Peggy Armbruster said.

During the crisis, he called home several times, she said. “He wasn’t in any danger, but things were a little tense,” she said. “He had to carry a letter, written in Arabic, stating he was with the embassy.”

During his stay in Baghdad, he lived in “newcomer apartments” with other American Embassy workers and walked to work, she said.

He left Baghdad on Sunday and called his wife that night from Frankfurt, his mother said. “We were absolutely delighted,” she said.

Plans call for him to see his parents in San Diego in January before returning to Washington in preparation for his next assignment, she said.

Saloom was unavailable for comment, but was reported by a friend to have flown to Washington to be with her husband, who initially took refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait and then in Baghdad.


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