Lorin Hubbard says he felt no fear as he waited for American bombs to fall on the Iraqi ammunition plant where he was held as a human shield.
"We were hoping they'd blow the place up," the angry, tired Boeing aircraft executive said as he trudged through the Frankfurt airport, a free man after 4 1/2 months as a vulnerable pawn.Hubbard, 66, was among scores of Westerners taken hostage by the Iraqis and designated human shields, dispatched to areas the Iraqis considered vulnerable to a U.S. attack.
He said he and his wife, who had lived in Kuwait City for more than five years, were picked up in Kuwait City by Iraqi troops shortly after the Persian Gulf nation invaded the tiny emirate.
He and about 40 other foreigners were taken to Baghdad "in an unair-conditioned bus in the heat of the day, babies and everything."
He said they were farmed out to other locations and that he and his wife were held in an office at a munitions plant about 40 miles west of Baghdad.
The composition of the nationalities he was with changed with the diplomatic overtures made by various countries. "They'd take the French out, then they'd bring somebody else in, then they'd take the Germans out," said Hubbard, who is from Seattle.
"We had no idea when we'd get out," he said. "Nobody knew where we were, as far as I know."
Asked if he felt in danger to a U.S. attack on the ammo factory, Hubbard said: "I want to see them make a hole in the ground at that place," he said. "We were hoping they would. I hope they blow it up."
Many other former hostages expressed rage when their ordeal finally ended. Several who managed to avoid detection in Kuwait said they were aided by an organized underground of Kuwaiti citizens.
Don Latham, an engineer from Albuquerque, N.M., said he worked with a Kuwaiti resistance that called itself "The Guardians."
"The last thing I saw was a Kuwaiti family that had given refuge to an American citizen," he said. "They (the Iraqis) killed seven members of the family."
He said he photographed the body of a 12-year-old boy. "Those murdering bastards," he said.
Latham, 51, said that he went underground with his 70-year-old stepfather, who had come to visit him just two days before the invasion.
"Several families put us up," he said. "The resistance is not totally violent. They're much more concerned with taking care of the people, getting food, not just to the Kuwaitis, but anybody."
But the hostage crisis wasn't hell for everyone.
David Dorrington, 43, said he spent most of the crisis hidden with five other Britons in a villa in Kuwait.
"Our basic living conditions were embarrassingly rather good. We had very good help from our Filipino maid who supplied us with everything and was absolutely magic," he said. But three weeks ago, Dorrington said, he was arrested and taken to Baghdad.
Defense Secretary Dick Cheney said Monday the release of hostages was "obviously very good news," but it did not mean Iraq is backing away from its occupation of Kuwait.
Indeed, Iraqi Information Minister Latif Jassim said Monday that any talk of a withdrawal from the emirate was "nothing but dreams and wishful thinking."