MACON, Miss. -- Friends and neighbors of an American civilian taken hostage in Iraq gathered yesterday for a vigil outside the county courthouse, many wearing yellow ribbons and scrawling notes of support for his family after a morning deadline imposed by his abductors passed.
Thomas Hamill, 43, was abducted Friday by gunmen who attacked a fuel convoy he was guarding, the latest in a string of kidnappings in Iraq.
"I'm just praying," his grandmother, Vera Hamill, said yesterday.
Hamill is a truck driver for the Houston-based engineering and construction company Kellogg Brown & Root, a division of Halliburton, his wife, Kellie, said.
His captors threatened to kill him unless US troops ended their assault on the city of Fallujah. The deadline passed yesterday morning with no word on Hamill's fate.
Several hundred residents gathered for a night vigil outside the Noxubee County Court House.
"We're just all pulling together for this man," said Mayor Dorothy Baker Hines.
A Halliburton official left Hamill's house yesterday evening without commenting. Vera Hamill said Halliburton officials asked the family not to talk to the media.
In a videotape of Hamill, broadcast Saturday on the Arab TV station Al-Jazeera, his expression was calm but wary. A voice-over read by an Al-Jazeera announcer quoted Hamill as saying he was being treated well."I am in good shape," the voice-over quoted him as saying. "I hope to return home one day, and I want my family to know that these people are taking care of me, and provide me with food, water and a place to sleep."
"I don't really know anything, we don't know anything. . . . Prayers are all we need right now," Kellie Hamill told The Commercial Dispatch of Columbus, Miss., in a telephone interview Saturday.
The news of his capture hit hard in the small community, where friends say almost everyone knew Hamill. Lamar White, who owns a country store, said he has known Hamill his whole life and described him as a family man with a young son and daughter.