FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 4, 2004
Schumer Honors 2nd Battalion 108TH Infantry Of NY National Guard Before The US Senate
The 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry based out of Capital Region lead civilian Thomas Hamill, who had been held hostage in Iraq for three weeks, to freedom on Sunday
US Senator Charles Schumer today honored the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry of the New York National Guard based out of the Capital Region today on the floor of the US Senate. Civilian Thomas Hamill escaped his captors in Iraq after being held for three weeks when he recognized the 2nd Battalion patrolling the area. The 2nd Battalion, headquartered in Utica and based in the Capital Region, lead Mr. Hamill to freedom and he is currently recovering from a gun shot wound to the arm at a hospital in Germany. Following are Schumer's remarks made before the US Senate today.
"I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the important and significant role that New York's 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry Regiment, recently played in the rescue of Thomas Hamill, the civilian contractor held captive for three weeks in Iraq. Seeing this unit in the area surrounding the farmhouse in which he was kept gave Mr. Hamill the courage to stand against his captures and escape to freedom. That is why I would like to recognize the 2nd Battalion 108th Infantry Regiment today. I know that it must be a great comfort to Mr. Hamill’s family and friends that when he first stepped in to the light of freedom, he was greeted by these fine New Yorkers.”
The 2nd Battalion, headquartered in Utica– with companies in Whitehall, Morrisonville, Gloversville, Rome and Glens Falls– has served this country since 1898, both at home and abroad.
After the attacks of September 11th, many of the men and women of the 2nd Battalion were activated and came to New York City to protect our citizens.
Mr. President, a full eleven of these National Guardsmen have such love for their fellow New Yorkers and for America that they are fighting in Iraq as new citizens, having been sworn in at a send off celebration in February.
The 2nd Battalion is fortunate to have guardsmen hailing from Africa, South America, the Ukraine, Japan and across the world now serving as American citizens.
What an extraordinary first act as an American– to serve and protect the Iraqi people and to lead Mr. Hamill to freedom.
Family, friends and neighbors from Albany to New York City, from Westchester to Plattsburgh, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo– all gathered together at that send off celebration to show their support and honor their bravery.
Mr. President, in the two months that they have been in Iraq these men and women serving under the leadership of Lt. Col. Mark Warnecke have truly served their country– in the true tradition of the National Guard– and I am proud to recognize their efforts today.
Mr. Hamill is now safe and recovering in Germany and looking forward to a reunion with his wife and his return to Mississippi after his courageous ordeal.
I look forward to the day when the men and women of the New York's 2nd Battalion, the 108th Infantry Regiment, can return as heros to their own families.
And I hope that their example will bring courage and pride to all those who are serving in Iraq, resiliently going about their task of brining peace and freedom to a nation."