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Letter from James Foley while held hostage publicly released

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - James Foley was held in a cell with 18 other hostages -- and they created their own games of checkers, trivia, and Risk to keep up their spirits.

That's according to a letter the Marquette graduate wrote from a Syrian prison. His family posted it on Facebook right after a memorial Mass in New Hampshire on Sunday night.

The 40-year-old Foley was beheaded by the Islamic State in a video released last week. He'll be honored at a memorial vigil in Milwaukee Tuesday night at the Gesu Church on the east edge of the Marquette campus.

Foley, a U.S. freelance journalist, was kidnapped on Thanksgiving of 2012 while covering the Syrian civil war. His family said he tried writing a number of letters home, but jailers confiscated them.

A fellow hostage memorized one of Foley's letters -- and when that hostage was freed, he called Foley's mother Diane and read it to her. Foley asked his grandmother to take her medicines, and he promised to take her out to dinner when he got home.

Media reports said the letter appeared to be written sometime this year. He said he was being fed better, and had regained weight he lost last year. Foley also told his family to "stay strong."

(Story courtesy of Wheeler News Service)