Roy Hallums, 60, was employed by the Saudi Arabia Trading Co. and his family thought he was in Saudi Arabia. Once they realized the truth they tried everything they could think of to help free him, The Commercial Appeal reports.
Daughter Amanda Hallums, now 30, contacted Muslims of Memphis for help translating a $40,000 ransom offer into Arabic. The flier was then scattered around the streets of Baghdad.
Hallums' ex-wife, Susan Hallums, 57, called the Libyan Embassy in an attempt to enlist its leader, Moammar Gadhafi, to her cause.
"I never gave up hope," Susan Hallums said. "It made me appreciate — it made me have a whole, totally different outlook on life. I definitely don't sweat the small stuff now."
In the end Roy Hallums was rescued by U.S. Special Forces after 311 harrowing days that he recounts in a new book due to be released in January, "Buried Alive: The True Story of Kidnapping, Captivity and a Dramatic Rescue."
"All you can think about is, 'This isn't going to last forever. It's going to be over. It's going to be over in a little while,' " Hallums said.
Hallums was forced from the offices of his employer, bound, blindfolded and held underground with nine others and a multitude of biting sand fleas, according to the book. He endured beatings and overheard fellow hostages receiving electric shocks.
"I hoped they wouldn't decide to just cut off my head and videotape the occasion for mass distribution to the international media...," he writes.
One day, after more than 10 months in captivity, he heard helicopters moving in over the house.
"I was thinking there's probably two possibilities: Either somebody's here to rescue me, which was probably too much to hope for after 311 days, or the gang's here to kill me before they can rescue me," he said. "That's when the soldier jumped down into the room and he pointed at me and said, 'Are you Roy?' and I said 'Yes.' And he said, 'Come on, we're getting outta here.' "
Hallums worked in the Middle East for 12 years, according to the book, first in the U.S. Navy and later for the Royal Saudi Naval Forces. Now retired, Hallums says he is occasionally asked to speak to FBI agents and military Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape training classes.
Some SERE training encourages hostages to befriend their captors, Hallums said. He disagrees with that approach and tells groups they must cooperate or die.
"These guys were not my friends and were never going to be my friends, and I knew it," he said. "The less I talked to them, the better. If you tell them something and they catch you in a lie, then you're going to be beaten."