John Hamen: US Contractor in Yemen Dies in Rebel Custody
John Hamen: US Contractor in Yemen Dies in Rebel Custody

John Hamen: US Contractor in Yemen Dies in Rebel Custody

A man with local ties is dead after being detained at an airport in Yemen. John Hamen graduated from Lakota in 1990. He was working as a contractor when he and another man were detained at the rebel-controlled airport 2.5 weeks ago.

Hamen, a Butler County native, grew up on Eastbrook Drive in West Chester and graduated from Lakota High School before joining the United States Army.

After retiring from the Army, Hamen began doing contract work.

His family said he died while working as a contractor.

“To anybody that knew John growing up, they always knew he was going to be a military guy, always playing Army in the backyard, dressing up in camo,” Hamen’s childhood friend, Andrew Cebulskie, said.

From Hamen’s childhood years in the Lakota School District to his adult life as a soldier, friends said John would have your back.

He also had our country’s back.

“He felt the call, I think, from early on to serve his country and see the world,” said Cebulskie.

After graduating from Lakota in 1990, Hamen joined the Army.

Friends from his hometown of West Chester said they watched his adventures, thanks to social media.

“I think we all live kind of vicariously through John and what he was doing around the world,” Cebulskie said.

Friends also watched Hamen’s family grow.

John and his wife Jen had seven children.

It was also through social media that many learned Hamen had died.

Here’s what his wife posted on his Facebook page Saturday morning:

“On October 20th, John was detained in Yemen while working as a contractor. Many of you probably did not know about this due to this being a privacy concern with officials in the government when it happened. Yesterday around 5:30 p.m., a few people from different agencies came to our home to notify us that John had died while in detainment and then was taken to a hospital. His body will arrive in Dover in less than 48 hours. I plan to post any further details here. I am sorry that I was not able to call many of his friends, but his phone and laptop were with him when he was detained and I do not have any of his contacts other than FB. Our family is heartbroken right now, I have lost the love of my life, my best friend, and my 7 kids have lost the best dad ever! -Jen Hamen”

The State Department confirmed Hamen’s death but said the cause hasn’t been determined.

A spokesman also confirmed Hamen was detained by the Houthis when he arrived at the airport in Yemen last month.

“You think about his family first. Sure our nation lost a hero, but the real tragic part, his children lost their dad, his wife lost a husband, his sister lost his brother,” Cebulskie said.

The State Department said it worked with a third party to get Hamen’s remains.

A spokesman would not say which country they worked with and said they weren’t releasing any other details at this point out of respect for Hamen’s family.

There are reports another American contractor was detained along with Hamen, but the State Department would not confirm those details.


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