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Hostage's wife, aunt have heard no word from Iraq

Spouse: 'I have faith in the Lord that he's coming home safe'


Hamill
Kellie Hamill said being a 911 operator did not prepare her for news of her husband's abduction in Iraq.

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Thomas Hamill
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Larry King

MACON, Mississippi (CNN) -- U.S. contract truck driver Thomas Hamill has been held hostage in Iraq for a week with no word on his condition since kidnappers threatened to kill him Sunday.

Hamill's wife, Kellie, and his aunt Colleen Higginbotham discussed the ordeal Thursday with Larry King on CNN's "Larry King Live" via satellite from Mississippi.

KING: Is Thomas your brother or sister's son, Colleen?

HIGGINBOTHAM: He's my brother's son.

KING: When did you -- by the way, have you heard anything lately at all, Kellie?

KELLIE HAMILL: No, sir, we have not.

KING: Are you satisfied that your government is doing everything it can?

HAMILL: I'm not -- I'd prefer not to comment on that at this time.

KING: Have you heard from the government?

HAMILL: We got a call from the State Department, and that's all we've heard, other than a couple of our local representatives and our governor.

KING: How did you learn about it, Kellie?

HAMILL: KBR [Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton Co. subsidiary] contacted us and advised us of the situation.

KING: And Colleen, how did you learn?

HIGGINBOTHAM: I learned also the same way.

KING: How are the children handling all of this, Thomas and Tori?

HAMILL: They're doing as well as can be expected with the situation as it is.

KING: You're an operator for 911, right? ...You get calls all the time about people in emergency situations?

HAMILL: Yes, Larry.

KING: Does that help you in handling something like this?

HAMILL: No, sir, it can't prepare you when it's your own family. You're used to separating your feelings from everything that's going on around you, but when it's your family it's hard to separate all of your feelings from it.

KING: You've also had open heart surgery. How recent was that?

HAMILL: I had my surgery on February 25, Larry.

KING: Was Tom home then, or had he gone already?

HAMILL: He had gone already, but we had contacted the company and the American Red Cross, and he had got an emergency flight out so he could be home with me when I had my surgery.

KING: Tell me about the circumstances of his taking this job, and I want your thoughts, too, Colleen. Why did Tom go to Iraq?

HAMILL: First off, he's a man [who] takes care of his family. He loves us very much. He's a hard worker, and he just did what he felt was necessary at the time to take care of us and all of the other situations around us.

KING: Was that a very well-paying job?

HAMILL: I don't know much about that. He did all that after. He left me a month before he went over.

KING: Were you surprised he went there?

HAMILL: No, sir.

KING: That's the kind of guy he is?

HAMILL: Sir, he would do anything for anyone if he could. It doesn't matter -- I would say he would give his shirt off his back to help someone, if it was what was needed.

KING: What kind of nephew is he, Colleen?

Hamill, Higginbotham
Hamill, left, and Colleen Higginbotham, aunt of the Iraq hostage

HIGGINBOTHAM: Oh, he was a wonderful nephew. We're a real close-knit family. We all support each other, and we knew his decision to go over there and hated to see him go but understood why he had to go because he wanted to provide for his family. So we understood it.

KING: Kellie, was it difficult to see the pictures they've put on television all the time? Is that hard for you?

HAMILL: Yes, Larry, it is.

KING: When was the last time you spoke to him?

HAMILL: I spoke to him the afternoon of April 7.

KING: So a few days before he was taken?

HAMILL: Yes, Larry.

KING: And you've received no word from anyone since last Sunday, the day they threatened to kill him if certain things weren't done, no word at all?

HAMILL: No word at all, Larry.

KING: What can you tell us about the kind of guy your husband is?

HAMILL: Tommy is a very family-oriented man. He's a kind and loving father and husband. He takes care of his responsibilities. He would do anything for anyone if he could, and he's just the most wonderful person I've ever met.

KING: Colleen, what's been the reaction of the people in Macon?

HIGGINBOTHAM: Marvelous support here. This is a real tight-knit community, and we've really been drawn together as a whole, and the country as a whole has been drawn together because of this. We've gotten more phone calls from people all over the United States and Canada, just giving their support and prayers that Tommy will return safely home.

KING: Did you get more nervous, Kellie, when you heard that an Italian hostage had been killed?

HAMILL: Yes, sir, Larry. It makes you worry, but I have faith in the Lord that he's coming home safe to us.

KING: Kellie, what would you -- I mean, we're seen all over the world -- what would you say to people? What would you say to anyone who might be watching us that might be in contact with him?

HAMILL: Well, I would like to let my husband know first of all that we love him and miss him very much. We hope he's doing fine. We would also like to say to the people that have him captive, we hope that they would release him unharmed and safe and let him come home to us just as soon as possible.

KING: Certainly if anyone is an innocent bystander, it's Thomas Hamill. What would you say, Colleen?

HIGGINBOTHAM: Much the same thing. We love him and want him home just as soon as we could possibly get him.


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