- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Thomas Hamill, whose dash to freedom from captivity in Iraq prompted a Mississippi lawmaker to dub him a “superhero for country boys,” still drives the same 1995 Dodge pickup truck, despite its lack of air conditioning.

“I will keep it until the wheels fall off,” Mr. Hamill said in an interview with the Associated Press.

But life indeed has changed for Mr. Hamill in the year since a bloody April 9, 2004, ambush near Baghdad International Airport. The farmer turned truck driver has co-authored a book and is on the speaking circuit. He even has been approached about making a movie about his experiences.

Mr. Hamill, 44, was employed by KBR, a subsidiary of Houston-based Halliburton Co., when the ambush occurred. Five others in the convoy died and Mr. Hamill was shot in the arm before his capture.

Monday marked the first anniversary of Mr. Hamill’s escape after 24 days in captivity. The military still lists two Americans as missing after the attack: U.S. Army Spc. Keith M. Maupin of Batavia, Ohio, and Timothy Bell of Mobile, Ala. Arab television reported on June 29 that Spc. Maupin had been killed.

Mr. Hamill’s book, “Escape In Iraq: The Thomas Hamill Story,” was released in October. Co-authored by Mississippi resident Paul Brown, the book chronicles his captivity, escape and return to his hometown of Macon in eastern Mississippi.

Mr. Brown said Mr. Hamill wrestled with the idea of writing a book for more than six weeks.

“The reason he decided to do it was because he had so many people asking him to. He got thousands of letters of people wanting him to tell his story because they had heard a little about it through the media and wanted to hear the full story,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Brown and Mr. Hamill continue to tour the country in support of the book.

“We’ve seen big grown men’s knees buckle, then collapse right there and just put their head on Tommy’s shoulder. They are very touched by what they have read,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. Hamill said being a published author does not guarantee a multimillion-dollar profit, and that any money he makes from book sales will go to a college fund for his children, Thomas, 15, and Tori, 13.

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