FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — An American held hostage in Iraq is a free man after escaping from his captors over the weekend.
Thomas Hamill, 43, journeyed to Iraq to find financial freedom. Instead, the contractor became an American hostage when his convoy was attacked three weeks ago.
The news of his freedom reached family members in Fayetteville, who are relieved that Hamill survived the ordeal and is finally safe.
Videotape of his capture and Hamill in front of an Iraqi flag were the last images of him broadcast to the world. His family did not know what happened to him.
"I got a call from my mom on my answering machine saying 'Tommy was free,'" said Rudy Eisenzopf, Hamill's cousin.
Eisenzopf, of Fayetteville, says when he saw his cousin's capture, he feared the worst, but never gave up hope.
"He's always been a cowboy to me. That's the way a cowboy would do it, he'd escape," he said.
"He heard the convoy, pried a door open and ran about a half mile to catch up with the convoy," Kellie Hamill said of her husband's escape.
Hamill lead the troops to the house where he was held and his captors are in custody.
Hamill's hometown of Macon, Miss., is preparing for a homecoming. For Hamill's entire family, it is a long-awaited reunion.
"Very few people have been held hostage that are Americans in the recent past. This is something new," Eisenzopf said.
Pfc. Keith Maupin was also kidnapped in last month's convoy attack and remains missing along with along with two other soldiers. Sgt. Elmer Krause of Greensboro also went missing in the attack. His remains were identified last week.