Friday, April 16, 2004

Glen Este prays for soldier

500 at vigil for Army Reservist missing in Iraq

By Howard Wilkinson
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Pfc. Matt Maupin
UNION TWP. - Along with hundreds of balloons, hymns and prayers rose up over the Glen Este High School football field Thursday night as about 500 people gathered to show support for Pfc. Matt Maupin, missing in action in Iraq.

The football field where the 20-year-old Army Reservist played for the Glen Este Trojans only a few years ago was lined with yellow ribbons - the community's sign of faith that Maupin, missing for a week since his convoy was attacked near Baghdad, will come home safely.

"This is a place where people stick by each other," said Joe Wilmers, a World War II veteran from Mount Carmel. Wilmers belongs to the same American Legion post Maupin joined only a month ago. "We're all one big family in this area."

The young soldier's own family was not at Thursday night's vigil at his high school, but his mother's fellow workers at the West Clermont School District and their families stood on the field holding candles for the 40-minute service.

Hundreds more sat in the stands, many of them people who had never known Maupin or his family.

"We are just here to show our support," said Barb Fussnecker of Amelia, who came with her husband, Ron, an Army veteran. "We can't imagine what that family is going through."

Maupin, a 2001 Glen Este graduate, has been missing since April 9, when the convoy in which he was driving a fuel truck came under attack west of Baghdad by individuals with rocket-propelled grenades and small arms.

The Clermont County soldier was well known in Union Township. The football player who maintained a 3.5 grade-point average joined the Army Reserve to earn money for college. His mother, Carolyn Maupin, is transportation secretary for the West Clermont School District.

Last fall, Carolyn Maupin was an organizer of the Clermont County Armed Services Support Group, which sponsored Thursday night's vigil.

The Maupin family has been staying secluded in their Willowville home.

But Thursday, the family released a brief statement through the public affairs office at Fort Knox, Ky. . They thanked the community "for their prayers and support.''

"During this time we would like to ask for the support of the media by respecting our privacy as we wait for positive news on Matt's safe return,'' the statement said. "We would like to request your prayers and support for Matt's safety and the steadfast resolution of peace and stability in Iraq.''

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