Guests: Dave McGinnis, Scott Peters, Bruce Snyder, Frank Bauer, Dorothy Baker Hines, Kellie Hamill, Brent Snook, Fadi Fadel
ANNOUNCER: DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT.
Killed in action. The pro football player who traded in one kind of glory for another. Tonight a salute to Pat Tillman, killed in action in Afghanistan.
Dave McGinnis, Tillman‘s former coach, on the player who was so moved by the events of September 11, he turned down millions to join his brother in the U.S. Army.
PAT TILLMAN, KILLED IN AFGHANISTAN: I‘ve always had a great deal of feeling for the flag.
ANNOUNCER: Plus, hostages of war. Thomas Hamill left hard times at home to work in one of the world‘s most dangerous places. Now he‘s being held by Iraqi rebels.
THOMAS HAMILL, HELD HOSTAGE IN Iraq: They attacked our convoy.
ANNOUNCER: Tonight his wife talks about what it‘s like to hope and wait.
After his convoy was attacked, 20-year-old American soldier Keith Maupin was taken hostage.
Keith Maupin, HELD HOSTAGE IN Iraq: Keith Matthew Maupin.
ANNOUNCER: Now his hometown bonds together, praying for the return of their own.
And for the first time, this man recounts his chilling tale of being captured and tortured by Iraqi rebels, and then finally released.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I‘m doing OK.
ANNOUNCER: From Studio 3-K in Rockefeller Center, Deborah Norville.
DEBORAH NORVILLE, HOST: And good evening.
Tonight the faces of war, the story of Americans being held hostage in Iraq. We‘ve seen their faces on those chilling videos.
And another face of war, the story of 27-year-old Pat Tillman. He‘s the former NFL player who gave up his multi-million dollar football career with the Arizona Cardinals to join the Army with his younger brother after September 11.
Pat Tillman was killed in action yesterday during a firefight after his patrol was ambushed in Afghanistan near the Pakistani border.
Tillman was a safety for the Cardinals for four years. But friends say he was deeply affected by the 9/11 terror attacks.
Here‘s what Tillman had to say the day after September 11.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TILLMAN: You kind of take it for granted, especially in the country we live in. We are such a free society, and, you know, we look at that flag. And—And I do—I‘ve always had a great deal of feeling for the flag. But even—even someone who considers themselves that way, you just don‘t think about it all the time. You don‘t realize what it gives you. You don‘t realize how great a life we have over here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: When Pat Tillman returned from his honeymoon in May of 2002, he told his teammates he was joining the Army. He turned down request for media coverage, said he didn‘t want any special treatment.
He became an elite Army Ranger, served in Iraq and then came back home for awhile, before he was shipped out to Afghanistan. That‘s where he was killed.
Fans paid their respects today at a makeshift memorial set up in Arizona. The team‘s vice president said the community is devastated by the loss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL BIDWELL, V.P., ARIZONA CARDINALS: In sports we have a tendency to overuse terms like courage and bravery and heroes. And then someone special like Pat Tillman comes along and reminds us what those terms really mean.
The Cardinals and the National Football League were privileged to have Pat Tillman in its family, and we are all weaker today following this loss.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Joining me tonight is former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dave McGinnis. He was Pat Tillman‘s coach, and he‘s known him since 1998.
Also with us tonight, New York Giants offensive lineman Scott Peters.
Scott played with Pat Tillman at Arizona State University.
And with us on the phone this evening is Tillman‘s former coach at Arizona State, Bruce Snyder and his agent, Frank Bauer.
Gentlemen, first of all, thank you so much for being with us, and I join all of you in sending our sympathies to Pat Tillman‘s family and friends.
How did you get the news, I‘ll start with you, Coach McGinnis, that Pat had been killed?
DAVE MCGINNIS, PAT TILLMAN‘S FORMER COACH: Deborah, I was in the draft room here at Tennessee. I‘m now with the Tennessee Titans, and I was in the draft room with Floyd Reese, our general manager, Jeff Fisher, our head coach, and the other assistant coaches when our public relations director came in early this morning and informed me and all of the coaches.
NORVILLE: Your reaction when you heard it?
MCGINNIS: Deborah, there was a flood of emotion that came over me from a lot of different angles, and, of course, you know, disbelief and immediate deep, deep sorrow. And then a wave of memories, you know, started coming back to me with my association with Pat.
And it was a sense of disbelief at first, but then at the same time, I was trying to refresh myself and my memories of the most recent times that I was with Pat.
NORVILLE: And what was the most recent time that you and he had been together?
MCGINNIS: Deborah, he and his brother and his wife and two of their friends had been able to come up to our game, Arizona, when we played at Seattle late in the year of last year.
And he had called me earlier in the week and had asked if he could come up to the ballgame. And I went to Mr. Bidwell, who‘s the owner of the Cardinals, and facilitated that, so Pat and his brother and his wife and his friends were able to come up and stay in our team hotel.
And then that night myself and those young people and Larry Marmie, who was also one of Pat‘s coaches at Arizona, who‘s now at the St. Louis Rams, we spent about four hours in our room, just talking about a myriad of things.
And I just reflected back on those—on those moments.
NORVILLE: I want to catch up on some of those reflections in just a moment. But let me ask you, Frank Bauer, as an agent of a player and a man who was as special as Pat Tillman, I‘m sure it hit you very, very hard to hear the news.
FRANK BAUER, PAT TILLMAN‘S AGENT: Yes. It was—you know, it was in disbelief. This morning I got a call from Coach Morris, who I represent in the National Football League, early this morning, telling me.
We think that Larry Marmie found out right away, because Pat was very, very, very close to Coach Marmie, and Mike Morris gave me the information. And then after that, the phone started ringing off the hook in regards to Pat and what had happened.
NORVILLE: Yes. And Coach—sorry, Scott Peters, you and he played together when you were both students at Arizona state. He was a senior; you were a freshman. So I guess you had to look up to him in a lot of different ways.
But I‘m sure you looked up to him even differently after he made the announcement that he was going to be leaving the league and going into the Army.
SCOTT PETERS, FORMER TEAMMATE OF PAT TILLMAN: Yes, I really did. It says a lot about him as a person. He was always a guy that led by example and never a guy to follow.
And, you know, basically his sacrifice and his—you know, he stuck
by his convictions and he did something he wanted to do. And he was very -
· he was a remarkable, remarkable person. And I really have a lot of respect for him.
NORVILLE: Did he seem different as a player back then in college because of that sort of special dedication?
PETERS: You know, I just—I mean, I was freshman and he was a senior, and I just remember watching him play. And you know, his playing on the field was always—he was obviously an excellent player.
But what really struck me about Pat was, you know, him in the locker room and him around the teammates, around the team. You know, he led—he led by example. Like I said, he was just a good person. Very loyal. A hard-working guy. And—And I had a lot of respect for him.
NORVILLE: Coach Snyder, you were coaching him at the time that Scott Peters was looking up to him. Tell me a little bit about the leadership qualities that he showed back then and how you were able to square the player you coached with the man who, a few years later, decided to give up football and go into the Army.
BRUCE SNYDER, FORMER ASU HEAD COACH: Yes, Deborah, it‘s good to be with you. I want to say hello to Frank and Scott and Dave, who just lost a good buddy.
I feel, like Dave or everybody, just an overwhelming sense of loss. My first reaction was I was very angry, you know, that this happened, because we‘ve lost somebody so—that‘s so strong and, you know, would have contributed so much to our lives.
But in coaching Pat and, you know, there are a lot of great memories, and it‘s been helping me through this day to go back and tell those stories and have those memories come up fresh.
From the first day that we recruited him—you know, he was the 25th out of 25 scholarships. He was the last one. And, yet, he came on, and he was the best player in our league his senior year, and graduated after 3 ½ years at a 3.8 GPA in business.
SNYDER: He did everything you would want from a student athlete. He was the epitome of that. Fiercely independent, but functioned very well within a team, which I think is a kind of an interesting trait that he had that not many people could do and haven‘t done.
But great leader on our team. You know, we went undefeated one year, and in large part—there‘s a lot of good players, but he was certainly one of them.
NORVILLE: And incredibly exuberant. We‘re looking at footage of him running the ball and doing flips after making a touchdown, I guess it is. I mean, just the energy that you see on his face and in his moves as he‘s going after and, you know, making the play is pretty incredible.
Coach McGinnis, I‘m sure that you and Tillman had some long talks about his decision after September 11, which was clearly a turning point in his life.
He shunned all the media interviews. But what can you share for us now about the process he went through to reach that very big decision?
MCGINNIS: Well, Deborah, when he did come in to, you know, inform me, he came into my office and shut the door and said, “Coach Mac, we need to talk,” and then proceeded to pull his chair up very closely and tell me about his decision and what he was doing.
And at that time, and all the way through, he never wanted it to be about him. And he shared some thoughts with me.
But, Deborah, the thing that Pat Tillman was and is and he embodied, what—the words honor, integrity and dignity. And his whole being personified commitment.
And that was clearly—you know, Pat Tillman never made a decision that he didn‘t think out very, very strongly and that he didn‘t have everything laid out and mapped out. And so it was a very, very thought out process that he went through. I respected it very much.
And—and he didn‘t want the spotlight to be about him. He saw himself as doing not anything especially unique.
And I brought it up to him. I said, “Pat, this is going to be very, very newsworthy, noteworthy. A lot of people are going to want to talk about it.”
And he said, “I don‘t want to talk about it.”
And then I asked him very pointedly, “How are you going to handle this?”
And he said, “I‘m not, Coach.” He said, “You can handle it if you want to.”
And so—and I think that Bruce and Frank and Scott will know—I mean, that‘s Pat. And Pat was very much on point with what he wanted to do.
And then when he came—did come to Seattle, just—I could sense the feeling of pride that he had of being a Ranger and just—and it was just—it was very, very awe inspiring to be in that room with those young people and just to feel the energy and the commitment that they had.
NORVILLE: He inspired a lot of people, not the least of which the other team members on the Cardinals team.
I want to give a listen to something that Pete Kendall said earlier today, the center for the Arizona Cardinals, in talking about Pat Tillman and his contributions.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETE KENDALL, ARIZONA CARDINALS CENTER: To step back and to look at him, for somebody to walk away from several million dollars and a life of relative ease to put his neck on the line literally for $18,000, $20,000 a year and no guarantee for tomorrow. Even the guys, I think, who knew him well, still, you had to be very surprised by that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Scott Peters, how were guys in the league reacting to Pat Tillman‘s decision when he made it?
PETERS: I think a lot of people were surprised, I mean, that didn‘t know him. And, you know, everybody is obviously wondering why he would decide to make that decision to transition into the Army.
And a lot of people look at the NFL as something that many kids aspire to, they dream about doing very young. And it‘s hard to believe someone would give that up. And I think even for the guys in the league now, it‘s hard for anyone to believe.
But, you know, those that got a chance to meet and know Pat, they‘re not—they‘re not surprised about it. And they know that Pat—I believe, you know, Pat would always try to challenge himself in any way, and I think that was exemplified when he tried to, like, run all these crazy marathons and stuff in between, during the off-season.
But, you know, coming from my perspective as a player, I think it‘s hard to give up something that you love. But I think Pat had a desire to do something else and to help and to give.
NORVILLE: I think there was something he loved more.
When we come back we‘re going to talk about the legacy that Pat Tillman leaves behind with four men who know him well. Dave McGinnis, Scott Peters, Bruce Snyder and Frank Bauer will all be back as we continue.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDWELL: He‘s a brave man. There—There are very few people that would have the courage to do what he did, the courage to walk away from a professional sports career, and to make the ultimate sacrifice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Back talking about the death of Pat Tillman.
Coach McGinnis, I know you‘ve got to go work on some NFL drafts, but before you go, Pat was so studious about avoiding the press. But he can‘t avoid it now. What message do you think he would want people to take from his death?
MCGINNIS: Deborah, I just know that the man that Pat Tillman was and what he personified, as I said earlier, the honor, the integrity, the dignity and just the commitment.
I think that—and Pat Tillman, whatever he did, I knew whenever I put him on the field for me that I was getting every fiber and essence of his being committed to what he was doing. And that‘s what he did. That‘s what he was. That‘s the way he lived his life. And that‘s why we all loved him very dearly.
NORVILLE: I know you‘ll miss him, as so many will. We‘re going to let you go, but we‘re going to continue our discussion with our other three gentlemen. Best wishes to you and we‘re hoping the Titans do well in the draft coming up.
MCGINNIS: Thank you very much, Deborah. Thank you. See you, Bruce.
SNYDER: See you, David.
NORVILLE: And we‘ll continue talking with—with our others.
Frank Bauer, you represented Pat Tillman as his agent. You have to advise him on all kinds of things. When he came to you with this decision, was it also your sense, as Coach McGinnis said, this was a mind made up; this was a decision that had been clearly thought out and he knew all the potential consequences?
BAUER: I think Coach Snyder would be able to explain this really easy, but Pat Tillman was a young man that you did not tell what to do.
He would think it out. He would talk to a lot of different people, and he‘d make his decision.
I remember when he told me, he says, “Hey, Frank, back off on my contract.” He says, “I have some other thoughts that I might do.” And I always thought maybe he was going to go into law, go into teaching, because he always wanted to offer something to, you know, other people. I mean, he was never—he was never into himself, like a lot of modern-day athletes, I would say, are. It was always we.
And he‘s the type of guy that in this whole process, when he was telling me that he was going to go do this, that I‘d say, “Pat, why?”
And he‘d say, “Hey, Frank, I just—I have to do it. If I wait, what you want me to do is accept this contract. Then I‘ll be 28, and I can‘t get into the Special Forces. And I‘m 25. I‘ll complete the three years and then I‘ll come back in, and will you still be there?”
And I said, “Of course, I‘ll still be there, Patty.” I said, “Everybody is going to want you back in the National Football League.”
And I know that Larry Marmie was very close to this kid‘s heart, big, huge. And I always felt that he would end up going to the St. Louis Rams. Because this kid turned down a lot of money two different times.
NORVILLE: Well, he was certainly recognized for what he did. While he shunned the spotlight, last summer there was an incredible event at the Espy Awards, when his brother Richard accepted an award on behalf of Pat and his brother.
Let‘s give a listen to what Richard Tillman had to say then.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD TILLMAN, PAT TILLMAN‘S BROTHER: I‘d like to thank Mrs. Ashe and the Ashe family for deeming my brothers worthy of such an award, and to all the people in the Special Forces who allow us to enjoy the freedoms we‘ve become accustomed to.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: The award was the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.
And Coach Snyder, where did that special part of Pat Tillman come from? Where did a man as young as him, when you coached him in college, get such a direct sense of knowing?
SNYDER: That is a great question. I would love to take some credit for it, and I cannot take a lick of it. Because when Pat arrived on our campus, he was well along his way in being the man that he became.
So I gave a great deal of credit to his family, his mom and dad, and the support people around him, because he—just with the first couple of conversations I had with him. And Frank said it. You didn‘t tell Pat. Now, you had to convince him of some things on occasion. But you didn‘t tell him much.
I actually believe I learned more from Pat than he did from me.
NORVILLE: And he was so about the job on the field and not about him as the star. I understand that he would often, after a game, request that he have a few moments with the teammates and then, before they opened the door to let the media come in, he‘d slip out a side door. Is that true?
SNYDER: Yes, absolutely. He—We‘re talking about one of the most unique people I‘ve ever been around. And that, just as you just described him, that‘s what he did.
I think one of the—the two elements, again, about putting together a fierce independence with a team-first attitude is so—almost unheard of to the degree that Pat put it. And, yet, that‘s what he did. He pulled that off.
And I think his entire life he was on a team. He was on a high school football team. He was on a—you know, a championship division 1 team...
NORVILLE: Well, certainly...
SNYDER: ... the NFL, and then the Rangers.
And yet, almost everybody talks about how—the clarity of his thoughts. He knew right from wrong, and he was a deep thinker. And he reached conclusions based on what he believed was the facts.
NORVILLE: Let me share what the NFL had to say when they made a statement in reference to Pat‘s passing.
They said, “Pat Tillman personified all the best values of his country and the NFL. Like other men and women protecting our freedom around the world, Pat made the ultimate sacrifice and gave his life in the service of our country.”
There really is, I guess, no higher calling than the one that Pat Tillman answered.
I‘m going to ask all of you the same question. Frank Bauer, I‘ll start with you. What legacy do you think Pat would want people to take, as I asked Coach McGinnis, from his death?
BAUER: I think, No. 1, stay true to his values and loyalties by setting a true example of being a real person.
You know, it‘s like Bruce said. Everyone should have the honor to know a person like Pat Tillman, that he always thought about others.
And, like you were saying in his legacy about the kid skipped out for the press. There could be the pope standing outside the locker room, and if there was a little boy that wanted Pat‘s autograph, he‘d attend to the little boy instead of going out to meet the pope.
NORVILLE: Scott Peters what would you say, in a final thought about Pat Tillman?
PETERS: He was an excellent player and it didn‘t necessarily have to do with his athletic ability, which he had. I think his intelligence, his work ethic, his mental focus is what got him there.
And I think that in any of his endeavors in life he would have been successful. And I appreciated having known him.
NORVILLE: And a final thought from you, Bruce Snyder.
SNYDER: Well, Deborah, this is what I think. We‘re all—we‘re all given the cards that we have. And Pat was dealt an excellent deck of cards.
But I think the legacy that I see and think about is the fact that Pat acted upon his beliefs and what his intellect told him to. So many of us...
NORVILLE: You know what? I‘m going to let that be the last word, because that‘s such a perfect word to end on.
Scott Peters, Frank Bauer, Bruce Snyder, thanks so much to all of you for sharing your thoughts.
And, of course, hundreds of Americans have died serving their country.
Not many have gotten the wave of publicity that Pat Tillman‘s death has. And that‘s party because he was a celebrity, but more because his story touched an emotional button.
He gave up something amazing for something bigger. We look at what he did and wonder if we‘ve got it in ourselves to do the same thing.
Well, Thomas Hamill‘s story pushes that same button. He‘s a man facing hard times, times so hard that he took work in the most dangerous place of the world to feed his family. In a moment we‘ll look at his story and speak to his wife.
NORVILLE: Like Afghanistan, Iraq remains a very dangerous place. But we‘re seeing an entirely new kind of warfare being used by Iraqi rebels, the taking of hostages from different countries.
Some of them have been released. An Italian hostage, though, was killed and at least two Americans are still being held captive.
Private First Class Keith Maupin is an American soldier who‘s been held hostage since his field convoy was attacked west of Baghdad. His captors released this videotape of him one week ago.
And civilian Thomas Hamill, a fuel truck driver for Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root. Both Hamill and Maupin were abducted on April 9. That‘s exactly two weeks ago today.
Joining me tonight are Kelly Hamill. She‘s the wife of Thomas Hamill. And with her there is Dorothy Baker-Hines, the mayor of Macon, Mississippi, which is the Hamills‘ hometown. Also with us this evening is Brent Snook. He‘s the pastor of First Baptist Church of Glen Este in the Ohio hometown of Private 1st Class Maupin.
Thanks to all three of you for being with us.
DOROTHY BAKER HINES, MAYOR OF MACON, MISSISSIPPI: Thank you.
KELLIE HAMILL, WIFE OF U.S. HOSTAGE: Thank you.
NORVILLE: Ms. Hamill, let me ask you first, how are you hanging in there these last two weeks? How are you doing?
HAMILL: I‘m doing very well, thank you.
NORVILLE: Have you heard anything, any news at all about the situation in Iraq as it goes with your husband?
HAMILL: No, ma‘am. We talked to them today and they said there was no new information. That‘s all that they knew of.
NORVILLE: That just must be so difficult for you to deal with. How are you and your two kids getting through all of this, with the support and the mayor and the rest of the community?
HAMILL: Yes, ma‘am, and the prayers from all of the people around the nation. That‘s about how we‘re getting through everything right now.
NORVILLE: And do you feel that? Do you feel the support of other people?
HAMILL: Yes, ma‘am.
NORVILLE: We saw just a flash of the videotape that they released of your husband. When you saw that videotape the first time, how did you think he looked? How did you think he felt? What did you think was going through his head?
HAMILL: He looked real well. He looked like he was generally good.
He was handling everything, as well as I could tell.
NORVILLE: And tell me how you think he‘s dealing with the situation these last two weeks. You know him probably better than anybody on planet Earth. I‘m sure you‘ve done that telepathic communication with him. How do you think he‘s holding up?
HAMILL: Well, ma‘am, he‘s a very strong man, and I know he‘s handling the situation, you know, the best that he can. And I feel that he knows that the lord is with him as well.
NORVILLE: And I think that‘s probably real important. I gather when he came back home a few weeks ago when you had your surgery, he spoke with the local pastor, and you felt that there was a connection in terms of faith that he had made that maybe hadn‘t been there before?
HAMILL: Yes, ma‘am.
NORVILLE: Tell me about that.
HAMILL: Well, we really didn‘t discuss much of that. You know, that all took place while I was undergoing surgery. So, you know, I just—you could just tell he had a peace in him. And that was the best thing that I knew of, and I was glad to see it.
NORVILLE: I‘m sure that‘s a real comfort.
Mayor, how are you all in the community? I know you‘ve rallied around there right in the beginning. Are you still continuing the daily prayer vigils there on the steps every night at 7:00?
BAKER HINES: Yes, ma‘am. And we will continue until Tommy comes home.
NORVILLE: And what are you all doing, then? What goes on during those sessions, just everybody gathers together and holds hands?
BAKER HINES: Yes, ma‘am. We all get in one big circle to begin with, and then we break into groups and pray, you know, each individually. And it‘s a very touching time. And you can definitely feel the presence of the lord there.
And it‘s really bringing our community even closer together. And we will continue it, like I said, every night until Tommy comes home.
NORVILLE: There was a similar vigil held just the other night in Ohio in the hometown the Private Maupin.
Pastor Snook, I know that this was something that was very important to the people in your town. Tell me a little bit about the session that you all had.
Yes, Pastor Snook, tell me a little bit about the session you had the other night.
Well, we‘ve got a little difficulty with Pastor Snook.
NORVILLE: We‘re going to let them get that repaired.
But let me come back to you, Mrs. Hamill.
When your husband was home for that brief visit when you had surgery, did you all talk about the work he was doing in Iraq?
HAMILL: No, ma‘am. At that time, we all didn‘t discuss much about what was going on over there. We just discussed what we needed to do to get through the surgery and spent time with the kids and as a family together.
NORVILLE: He didn‘t talk about what his work was over there? He didn‘t describe what the situation was?
HAMILL: No, ma‘am.
NORVILLE: Oh, that‘s interesting. And the kids weren‘t curious? I mean, I just think it‘s so far away. If nothing else, it‘s a foreign country. That there just wasn‘t any discussion about that?
HAMILL: No, ma‘am. We just—you know, the main deal was the surgery and spending time together as a family. That was the most that we wanted to do at that time.
NORVILLE: Well, I can appreciate that.
And how are you doing physically now after that operation?
HAMILL: I‘m doing very well.
NORVILLE: Yes, considering the circumstances, I know.
We‘ve got the audio fixed with Pastor Snook. Let‘s go back to him.
Sir, tell us about the vigil that you had the other night there in your hometown.
HAMILL: The other night, it was a great showing of support. There was a huge crowd that came from the community. And most of the family, the Maupin family, was there, except for Carolyn, the mother. But there was a very, very special message that was videotaped in the service, towards the ends of the service. It was a message by Carolyn, and it was very touching to the crowd.
NORVILLE: Well, we‘ve got that message.
So why don‘t we stop and let‘s play the videotape of Mrs. Maupin that was shared with the folks at the community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAROLYN MAUPIN, MOTHER OF MATTHEW MAUPIN: When I see all of the yellow ribbons displayed everywhere, I am reminded of the compassion and humanity in all of us. Believe in Matt. Believe in the U.S. military. Believe in prayer. For those of you who have someone in the U.S. military, I encourage you to believe in them, as I do my son.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: Those words, you said, meant a lot to the people there.
PASTOR BRENT SNOOK, FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF GLEN ESTE: Well, the words that I shared was—the words that Carolyn shared were—really backed up what I tried to share with the people, that there is help when tragedy hits home, because our help and our hope stems from our God. We have great confidence in our military. And we believe that our military in the United States of America is the best military. And praying to our God is the greatest hope that we can have.
NORVILLE: You know, one question I have. Both Private Maupin and Tom Hamill disappeared to April 9. Do you know, Pastor, if they were involved in the same situation, or were these two disconnected events that just coincidentally happened on the same day?
SNOOK: I do not know.
NORVILLE: Do you know that, Ms. Hamill, whether they were in the same convoy?
HAMILL: I do not know, ma‘am.
NORVILLE: Yes. See, there‘s so many questions about that, which must make it even more difficult for all of you trying to get through this situation.
Pastor, when you‘ve got a situation like this in your community and you‘re trying to counsel them, other than keep praying, you know, give faith to God that he‘s going to get you through this, how do you deal with that panicky moment that must inevitably set in, especially when a videotape is released and you‘re hearing very disturbing things being said on the part of the captors?
HAMILL: Well, you know, it was a chilling sight, as we saw Matt, of course, just there against that wall. It was a chilling sight, to say the least.
But our community—it‘s amazing how the community just came together. And the first place that they came was to the church. And we had prayer for him on Wednesday before we found out that he was a prisoner of war, when he was simply missing in action. And we believe thank God answered prayer on that Wednesday. And when we saw him on Friday there, it was a blessing, although it was a chilling sight.
And now we just continue to trust in the lord and just lean on our community as well to give the support.
NORVILLE: Mayor Hines, I know your community continues to hope, as do all of us, that Tom Hamill gets back home and get back home very soon. Have you all started about what kind of celebration you might put on?
BAKER HINES: Oh, yes, ma‘am, we‘ve discussed several things.
And I know one of the first things we want to do is of course just have—we want to bring him downtown, have a parade and just celebrate his homecoming. And I‘m sure we‘ll cook him up some good Southern food that he hasn‘t had in a while, and we will just—we‘re going to just do everything to make his homecoming one that he‘ll never forget.
NORVILLE: Well, there‘s nothing better than fried okra and fried chicken. And I know you‘ll be cooking it up big-time.
NORVILLE: Mrs. Hamill, our thoughts continue to be with you.
Dorothy Baker Hines, Pastor Snook, thank you for your time as well.
SNOOK: Thank you.
ANNOUNCER: Up next, this man went to Iraq on a humanitarian mission, and it nearly cost him his life. He was kidnapped and tortured. But he made it out alive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FADI FADEL, FORMER IRAQI HOSTAGE: I‘m doing OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: Tonight, Fadi Fadel‘s exclusive story of 10 days in the hands of Iraqi rebels, when DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT returns.
NORVILLE: Up next, an exclusive interview with a man kidnapped, held hostage and tortured in Iraq. He‘s now free. And he‘ll be talking about his ordeal next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FADEL: I‘m doing OK. I‘m in great company. I had good food and I‘m going to wash and got new clothes, so I‘m pretty happy. And I thank the officers. I thank (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for saving me today. He was my savior today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NORVILLE: That was Syrian-born Canadian Fadi Fadel speaking to reporters just after he was released by his Iraqi captors last week.
Fidel was held hostage for 10 days. He was accused of being a spy. He was tortured. Canadian diplomats were able to secure his release. He had only been in Iraq for three months overseeing children‘s programs when he was kidnapped from his home in Najaf.
Joining me now in his exclusive interview is Fadi Fidel. He‘s with us tonight from Montreal.
And it is good to see you, sir. Welcome.
FADEL: Thank you.
NORVILLE: Tell me, what were you doing in Iraq with the children‘s programs?
FADEL: I took a post with the International Rescue Committee as a child protection coordinator. I was coordinating several children‘s programs, including school rehabilitation, water projects, vaccination, and psychosocial development to overcome the trauma of war.
NORVILLE: And the kids that you worked with, they responded well to you being there? They enjoyed your presence? They appreciated what you were doing, them and their parents?
FADEL: Yes, everybody was quite, quite happy that we are working out of Najaf. We were very well received from the community and from the clergy there. It was quite a good experience.
NORVILLE: Until one day. What happened?
FADEL: You know, following the demonstration in Najaf and the clashes with the coalition forces, the city went into a state of chaos. And two days after that, on the 6th of April, just a bunch of people came to my residence where I was staying and they took me literally from bed.
NORVILLE: You were in your bed and they dragged you out of your bed?
FADEL: Yes, yes, yes.
NORVILLE: And did what, blindfolded you?
FADEL: Well, they put me in the company car and then they blindfolded me, tied my hands behind my back and drove somewhere. I don‘t know.
NORVILLE: And then what happened? You were transferred out of the vehicle?
FADEL: Well, I was put in—I don‘t know. I was put in a place, and I think it was a hallway or a corridor. And I was in that corner and I was blindfolded, hand-held all the time. And then about five, 10 minutes later people came in and started interrogating me that I was a spy and to which country I‘m spying for. And it continued for about 48 hours.
NORVILLE: And they were interrogating you in what language?
FADEL: In Arabic.
NORVILLE: And you speak Arabic?
FADEL: Yes, I do.
NORVILLE: You grew up in Syria, correct?
NORVILLE: And then emigrated when you were a kid to Canada.
FADEL: Nineteen. I was 19.
NORVILLE: When you were 19.
NORVILLE: And why did they think you were a spy? What about you, what about your work gave them reason to think that you were something other than a government—a nongovernment worker?
FADEL: This is what‘s puzzling me the most, because people in Najaf know the IRC and what we do. And we have the blessings of most of the clergy there. So I don‘t know why they thought that. They took my Canadian passport, first thing, in the house, before they got me in the car. And then in the interrogation they wanted me to confess that I‘m a spy, something that I refused to do.
NORVILLE: And they wanted you to confess that you were a spy to Israel.
FADEL: Yes, yes.
NORVILLE: And did they have any basis for that, I mean, that you‘re a spy for Israel because?
FADEL: No basis at all, no, just accusations, and a lot of beating and burning by cigarettes. And then...
NORVILLE: Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait. They beat you? They burned you?
FADEL: Yes. Yes. And every time, I will just go down, try to protect myself. And my neck will be exposed. They will burn me on my neck.
And then after these, you know, sessions, they put me in front of a camera and they said, just say my name, my nationality and the organization I work for. And they ordered me to say that I cooperated with Israel. And I refused a few times, until, you know, they had a couple of guys stand behind the camera with their Kalashnikov pointed at my head. And I heard the bullet go in the chamber. So I said, that‘s it, if I don‘t say what they want, they‘re going to kill me.
NORVILLE: So you said it.
FADEL: I said my name. I said my nationality, the organization. And then, I mumbled at the end, sort of cooperate with Israel. And they took the tape and said they were going to the media. I‘ve seen the tape afterwards, and it‘s not what I‘ve said. And it‘s not my voice on that tape. So it‘s been doctored.
NORVILLE: So we are going to take a break. When we come back, we‘re going to talk more about some of the techniques the captors in Iraq are using to try to spin the story with the people they‘re holding hostage.
More on our exclusive interview with Fadi Fadel right after this break.
NORVILLE: When Fadi Fadel was held captive and videotaped, the tape the world saw was not the words he said.
Back more with our exclusive interview with Mr. Fadel.
We, then, should not put a great deal of reliance on the videotapes we‘ve seen, sir, of others who have been held hostage in Iraq, based on your experience?
FADEL: I don‘t know. I haven‘t seen the other tapes. I‘ve seen—I think—I believe I‘ve just seen the Japanese tape and one U.S. Army person.
But when I‘ve seen my tape, there‘s some writings on it, and, you know, the voice didn‘t match my lips. And it‘s not my own voice. I can‘t tell about the others.
NORVILLE: How did you finally get released? You went through 10 days of beatings and cigarette burns and faux executions. How did you finally get free?
FADEL: Well, the last four days, the treatment was much better. It improved dramatically. And they kept on saying that I‘m going to be released any minute.
But, instead of that, we changed locations a couple times. And then, on Friday, they came in and said, you‘re going to be free. They got me into the car. I was not really sure that I‘m going to be free, you know. I thought they were changing places again. But we started driving into the cemetery, and I sort of got really scared there, because it‘s quite a haunted place to be in.
NORVILLE: A frightening place, yes.
FADEL: Anyway, they stopped the car. They started wrapping their heads, covering their faces. And they told me that Muqtada al-Sadr has issued a fatwa on Friday prayer, saying that all hostages, you know, civilians not from countries that didn‘t participate in the war should be released. And he‘s going by his orders.
So he drove further into the cemetery, and there‘s a cleric from Muqtada‘s office. And some of the Mahdi Army people. And they sort of had an argument, some gunshots, and then finally, you know, I was delivered to them. And then I brought into Muqtada al-Sadr‘s office, where...
NORVILLE: You met him himself?
FADEL: No, no, I was just in the reception area. There was lots of media. And then IRC came and got me from the office, and then they secured my exit out of the country.
NORVILLE: Do you have any reason, any idea, sir, to know why you were kidnapped, what the purpose was?
FADEL: No, I have no idea.
NORVILLE: And would you go back to Iraq to continue the work?
FADEL: It‘s a wish, yes. I think, you know, this incident, this just expresses the views and the actions of a small group of Iraqis. Iraqis—
I‘ve been there for three months. I‘ve had meals with them, met their children, worked with their children. I think Iraqis are ready and willing, and they want democracy and they want freedom.
It‘s just a small group of people are sort of destroying what the most want.
NORVILLE: And it‘s an incredible thing that you would go back and help them more. I think that‘s really admirable.
FADEL: Thank you.
NORVILLE: Well, I hope you‘ll come back and talk with us more. It‘s a fascinating story. And you‘re an amazing man to come through it with such grace and such composure. I‘m impressed.
FADEL: Thank you. Thank you very much.
NORVILLE: When we come back, one more look at the story of Pat Tillman, the football star who gave up all that NFL glory to fight for his country. He was killed in action yesterday in Afghanistan.
NORVILLE: This week‘s “American Moment,” a final look at Pat Tillman, the former NFL player who gave up his football career and walked away from a $3.5 million contract to join the Army with his younger brother after the 9/11 terror attacks.
Pat Tillman was killed in action Thursday during a firefight after his patrol was ambushed in Afghanistan. He played for the Arizona Cardinals as a safety for four years and set a club record for tackles in 2000. But friends say he was deeply affected by 9/11 and wanted to pay something back for the comfortable life he had. After returning from his honeymoon in May of 2002, he shocked his teammates and joined the Army, turning down requests for media coverage, saying he didn‘t want any special treatment.
Tillman became an elite Army Ranger and was deployed to Iraq in March of last year. After serving during the war, he came back home for a bit and was then deployed to Afghanistan. Pat Tillman was 27 years old when he was killed in the line of duty. And we recognize him for this week‘s “American Moment.”
You can send your ideas and comments to us at NORVILLE@MSNBC.com. And we‘ll be posting some of them on our Web page at NORVILLE.MSNBC.com. So check that out.
Thanks so much for watching. That‘s our program for tonight. I‘m Deborah Norville.
If you were with us last Friday night, we helped the “Sesame Street” gang celebrate their 35th birthday. After the program, we spent a little more time talking with Elmo and the gang. And you‘ll be able to see that this weekend during a special edition of DEBORAH NORVILLE TONIGHT. You‘ll see it on MSNBC tomorrow afternoon at 4:00 Eastern time and again at noon Eastern on Sunday.
That‘s our program for tonight. Thanks so much for watching. Have a great weekend.
And coming up next, “ULTIMATE EXPLORER FRIDAY” with Lisa Ling.
We‘ll see you Monday.
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