MACON, Miss. -- Civilian contractor Thomas Hamill's daring escape yesterday after three weeks as a hostage in Iraq was "the best wake-up call" for his wife, and the mayor of Macon promised "a parade that will not end" when he returns home.
"Tommy is free!" one resident yelled, as she ran to wake her husband with the news.
Hamill, kidnapped during an attack on his supply convoy April 9, escaped from a house south of Tikrit and ran to a nearby US patrol, the US military announced in Baghdad.
Kellie Hamill said she got a call about 5:50 a.m. CDT saying that her husband was free. She said it was "the best wake-up call I've ever had." Thomas Hamill later called home.
Kellie Hamill went to church, where well-wishers greeted her with joyful hugs and tears.
Worshipers at Calvary Baptist Church had prayed for Hamill around the clock, said choir member Shirley Battle. "I don't think anyone in this group had given up," Battle said.
Thomas Hamill's father, Leo, said he fell asleep Saturday night while watching a television newscast and woke yesterday to church programming interrupted by a bulletin reporting his son's escape. "I knew when I saw him on TV, I knew it was him," the teary-eyed father said. "I hoped they would return him safe."
Hamill, 43, was "in good health," said Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.
Kellie Hamill said her husband told her he pried a door open at the house where he was being held after he heard a US Army patrol nearby. "He said he ran half a mile down the road and got with the convoy. Isn't that something?" she said.
Hamill's 12-year-old daughter, Tori, said she talked briefly to her father. "I told him that I loved him," she said.
Earlier, Kellie Hamill had said their children were ecstatic and that Tori "is just bounding around the house."
Mayor Dorothy Baker Hines said she told Kellie Hamill that as soon as her husband is back, "we're going to have a parade that will not end."