Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Outpouring for Maupin

Students, Reds show they care

By Cindy Kranz and Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The Cincinnati Reds paid tribute Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park to Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin of Union Township, being held captive in Iraq.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/JEFF SWINGER
From the Cincinnati Reds to Tristate students, support for captive soldier Keith Matthew Maupin has spilled well beyond the borders of his native Clermont County.

Pfc. Maupin, a 2001 Glen Este High School graduate, was taken hostage in Iraq following an attack on his convoy April 9. His home county is not the only place brimming with yellow ribbons and signs of support.

• At Great American Ball Park Tuesday night, the Cincinnati Reds placed a message of support for the Union Township soldier on the scoreboard at the beginning of the fourth inning of Tuesday night's game against Atlanta.

Special Section on Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin
Glen Este Middle School sixth-grader Jacob Kelch's letter to Maupin family
• At Dater High School in West Price Hill, art teacher Penny Harris has all of her students, grades 7-12, working on a patchwork quilt for the Maupin family. The theme is "Light the Way Home."

Harris, a neighbor of the Maupins in Union Township, hopes to sew together almost 100 squares and give the quilt to the family by the end of this week.

Since the videotape showing Maupin being held came out Friday, "all the students have been talking about it," Harris said. "They're all concerned, the older kids especially, because they're 18, getting ready to graduate and feel like this could be someone they know."

• At Mount Healthy High School, Angie Cross's advisory group of 15 freshmen and sophomores have been writing letters of support that will be mailed Thursday to Maupin's family.

Cross' son wanted to join the service when he graduated last year. Because he was only 17, and given the world situation, she and her husband wouldn't sign him up. They told him he had to wait until his 18th birthday to enlist on his own. Instead, he went on to college.

When Cross heard about Maupin, she felt called to do something.

"I began to pray as if I knew this family and ask God for complete protection, I ask God to let his angels encamp around Matt and his family - to give them peace in their time of storm."

• Students in Richard Goldman's entrepreneurship class at Cincinnati Public's Entrepreneurship High School in Winton Place will sell origami earrings, with proceeds going to a Matt Maupin Scholarship Fund.

"It's not a memorial," Principal John Morris said. "We expect him to return. Upon his return, he could choose how he wants to rededicate those funds to the school."

The 60 students, mostly sophomores, have been working to develop and market the earrings. Usually, the students profit from the sales and do something for themselves, such as take a trip to Paramount's Kings Island.

That was before April 9.

"They decided, as a group, to start a scholarship fund in his honor," Morris said.

• In the Oak Hills Local School District, students at at least two schools are showing support.

Karrie Gallo, a German teacher at Bridgetown Middle School, is having her homeroom students make cards for the Maupin family. At Oakdale Elementary School, students in Linda Rechtin's music classes sang the National Anthem and had a moment of silence for Maupin this week.

Support has swelled from others in the military and their families.

Maupin's mother, Carolyn, was one of the founders last fall of the Clermont County Armed Services Support Group, an organization made up of parents and other family members of servicemen and women.

The Clermont County group was modeled, in part, on the Military Support Group, a group of area military families who have met once a month in Blue Ash since the military buildup began in Afghanistan in early 2002.

Now, the Blue Ash-based organization has embarked on a campaign to show support for the Maupin family. Members are writing letters of support to Carolyn Maupin and her family, which organizer Teri Ludwig of North Bend said she would mail to the family next week.

Carla Allgeier of North Canton was in Cincinnati Friday to pick up her son, 1st Lt. Benjamin Sigman, after more than a year in Iraq and Kuwait.

After Sigman, 27, landed at the airport, the family visited his grandmother's house in Mount Washington and took down a huge yellow ribbon tied to a tree.

That afternoon, the family drove to Batavia, where they placed the ribbon on a tree near the courthouse, not to be taken down until Maupin returns home.

"The ribbon served its purpose for us; now it can serve its purpose for them," Allgeier said. "Tying these yellow ribbons on is something you can do to show support for the troops."

At Fort Belvoir, Va., Jeff Fiely, a Clermont County sheriff's deputy and an Army reservist who's been mobilized for two years, said colleagues have offered their support to him since they learned that Maupin and Fiely are both Glen Este graduates.

Fiely is glad people in the Cincinnati area now are giving more recognition to people serving in the military.

Howard Wilkinson contributed. E-mail and

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