Former Iraqi Prisoner Honored in Macon

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More than 300 people, many waving U.S. flags, showed up Saturday for a July 4 parade featuring Thomas Hamill, the truck driver who escaped his Iraqi captors.

A banner draped across the truck in which Hamill rode read, "Welcome Home Tommy."

"I had no thought what the next day would bring, only that God was there," Hamill said in a short speech afterward. "I had no control of the situation. I just took 23 days one day at a time."

Hamill, 44, was driving a fuel truck in Iraq for a Halliburton subsidiary when his convoy was ambushed April 9. He was kidnapped and imprisoned in a farmhouse 50 miles north of Baghdad until he escaped on May 2.

He declined a homecoming parade when he returned in May, but determined to thank him the residents of Macon combined America’s Independence with the celebration of a man who freed himself.

The parade Saturday featured floats ridden by Vietnam veterans, firefighters, police officers, Rep. Chip Pickering, R-Miss. and former Rep. G.V. "Sonny" Montgomery.

Marching bands made their way down the street as small children in wagons waved U.S. flags.

During Hamill's captivity, the town held nightly prayer vigils for the dairy farmer and volunteer firefighter who was drawn to Iraq by Halliburton's $80,000 annual salaries for truck drivers.