Macon Calls Off Parade At Request Of Hamill - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/06/04

Macon Calls Off Parade At Request Of Hamill

Thomas Hamill is tired after his hostage ordeal in Iraq but told family members in an emotional phone call that he is excited to soon be returning home, his grandmother said Thursday.

"He called me and we had a good talk,'' the 92-year-old Vera Hamill said Thursday. "He said he wants to be back home but he doesn't want to be in the limelight.''

His tiny hometown in east Mississippi, which had planned a parade and other events to celebrate Hamill's homecoming, announced Thursday that planning for the events had ended.

"The city of Macon has been informed by the Hamill family that they prefer not to have any type of celebration for Mr. Tommy Hamill's homecoming,'' Mayor Dorothy Baker Hinds said in a statement.

Also Thursday, Aly Goodwin Gregg of Charleston, W.Va., who has served as spokeswoman for former POW Jessica Lynch's family, said she was now working with the Hamill family. There were also indications the family has hired an attorney to represent their interests.

Hamill, a 44-year-old contract truck driver for a Halliburton subsidiary who escaped his Iraqi captors Sunday, has been treated since Monday at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany for a wounded arm.

His wife, Kellie, flew from their Macon home to the hospital and joined her husband Wednesday. The two may return to Mississippi as early as Friday.

Vera Hamill said her grandson, at times emotional, had told her, "he didn't want `nothing big for me. I just want to be quiet and be with my family.'''

Hines had said earlier that the parade would not be held until after the Hamill family was ready. In Thursday's statement, city officials said they were "sorry for any inconveniences and wish the Hamill family the very best. ...''

Phyllis Hamill said Wednesday that her son had made it clear he did not want any celebration that held him up as a hero.

"He told Kellie he would be reluctant about something like that because there were others over there still being held and he didn't want it getting back over there that he was welcomed like some type of hero,'' Phyllis Hamill said. "He was afraid it might hurt the situation.''

Family members said they had understood Hamill might want to return to Iraq with his company, but in another capacity. They said Kellie and other family members want Hamill to find work at home.

The national attention given Hamill's capture and escape may provide him with unexpected income from book or movie deals.

One family member, who asked that their name not be used, confirmed there had already been calls offering to tell the Thomas Hamill story.

Vera Hamill said her grandson's family was more interested in getting him back home and thanking those who offered prayer and support during the uncertain days.

"He told us he had been praying and I said that's what brought you home, isn't it,'' she said. "He just wanted us all to know he is to thankful to be back.''

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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