No word on driver lost in Iraq convoy
N.H. man missing since April attack; family frustrated at lack of progress
CONCORD, N.H. -- In the six months since Halliburton trucker William Bradley disappeared in Iraq, his loved ones say they have been frustrated by their fruitless efforts to learn what happened to him.
"I haven't heard one thing," said Bradley's sister Donna Cureton of Carlsbad, N.M. "My phone bill looks like the national debt, but nobody will talk to you."
Bradley, 50, of Chesterfield, N.H., disappeared on April 9, when insurgents attacked his fuel convoy outside Baghdad. One hostage from the convoy, Thomas Hamill, 44, of Macon, Miss., escaped captors in May and returned to the United States.
Cureton said she gave up calling Halliburton and the Department of Defense for updates. "Since I'm not a wife or child, they seem to think I'm not entitled to any news," she said.
Cureton, 61, said Bradley's son, Jackson of Wichita, Kan., is not commenting on the search for his father. Attempts to contact him by phone were unsuccessful.
Bradley, an outgoing trucker with a passion for
"I told him: 'Don't go. If you get in any kind of trouble, our government's not going to help,' " Cureton recalled. "He said well, he had signed the contract to go, he gave his word to go, and he wanted to see the country and meet the people."
Cureton said Bradley, who spent four years in the Marines, told her he planned to use some of his Halliburton money to go on a bike trip through Europe. "He was going to go to France, places like that. Take his bike and go," she said.
According to friends, Bradley left New Hampshire Feb. 11 and traveled to Wichita, where he left his Harley with his son for safekeeping. He then headed to Houston, where Halliburton is based. His group of contractors arrived in Kuwait on March 14. Less than a month later, Bradley's convoy was attacked in Iraq.
Friends said Bradley's decision to go to Iraq was a sign of his free spirit and curiosity.
"About every two years he would take off and he would go," said Suzanne Behringer, 46, of Galveston, Texas, who said she is Bradley's common-law wife.
Behringer said she and Bradley spent time together during his last night in Texas.
"I begged him not to go . . . because it was just so volatile," she said. "He was going over there, he said, for adventure and to rebuild the country."
After the attack, Behringer recalled that Halliburton asked her whether Bradley had a reason to stay in Iraq. "All I could say to them was, 'Is there a Harley-Davidson T-shirt shop?' It'd be the only reason he would stop, I swear to God."
Behringer and Bradley met in 1995. They split up in 2001, but Behringer said the two stayed in touch, even after he moved to New Hampshire and started another relationship.
Behringer also said calls to get updates on the search were fruitless. "Nobody says anything, nobody knows anything, and that's including Halliburton and the Army and the Department of Defense," she said. "They say they're looking for him, but they won't say where."
Halliburton spokeswoman Wendy Hall, who responded to requests for comment by e-mail, said, "We wish we could help with more information, but we don't have it." Information is limited because the search is being conducted by the military in an active combat area, she said. Forty-eight Halliburton employees have died in Kuwait and Iraq since fighting began.
Hall said Bradley's name is included in President Bush's daily briefing, "so their situation is known at the highest level of our government."
This is little comfort to Wilma Procter, Bradley's girlfriend in Chesterfield.
"I check with them all the time," she said. "So far there is no official military report on him.
"I am aware of every single day that I do not speak with him," said Procter, who also is a long-distance trucker and motorcycle enthusiast. She was speaking from North Carolina.
On Sunday, members of Bradley's bike club in New Hampshire, the Monadnock Hogs, plan to distribute magnetic POW-MIA ribbons, which they will display on their bikes in his honor.
Meanwhile, Bradley's loved ones say the combination of no news about him and conversely, videos of hostage beheadings has them wishing for closure.
"I get really antsy when they go to showing these guys getting their heads chopped off," Cureton said. She thinks her brother is dead, although his body has not been found.
"You get a little feeling," she said. "I'm hoping I'm wrong."