Thursday, April 22, 2004

Lynch family understands


They've been through wait for news

By Kristina Goetz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Keep praying.

Those were the words that Greg Lynch Sr. - father of the world's most famous captured soldier of the war in Iraq - had for friends and family of Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin, who was kidnapped April 9 in an ambush by insurgents.

For 12 days in 2003, Lynch and his family sat vigil, prayed together and anxiously waited amid the swirl of television cameras and international attention for word that daughter Jessica would return home safely.

For the past week in Clermont County, the Maupin family has endured similar attention since the 20-year-old soldier's image was broadcast on Arab television and then around the world.

"The only thing you can say to the family is to keep praying," Lynch Sr. said from the family's home in West Virginia.

"If it weren't for prayers and God answering them, we wouldn't have Jessi back. They could have easily killed her. We pray every night and every morning that the hostages are freed."

Jessica's parents don't push her to talk about her capture at home, where she lives. But watching another family go through similar heartache brings back memories for all of them.

Her father understands the frustration and anxiety the Maupin family must feel.

"We had a whole houseful of people here the whole time, 15 to 20 people a day," Lynch said. "We didn't sleep much, maybe two to three hours. Everyone in the house kind of took a turn at the TV. Just about everyone in the whole house watched the news. Everyone helped each other during that time."

Evenings were the toughest, he said.

"Every night when we laid down, it was hours before we could drift off," he said. "You were always wondering what they were doing. We were hoping they were hiding out. Is she alive? Is she dead? Is she hurt bad?

"Your mind wanders, and that was the hardest part."

On Sunday, Jessica and her mother, Deadra, called the Maupin family through Maj. Willie Harris from the 88th Regional Readiness Command, based at Fort Snelling, Minn. The command has a team of family assistance officers helping the Maupins.

They shared concerns and they prayed.

"Both Dee and Jessica wanted to call because this is an eerily similar situation," said Aly Gregg, Jessica's publicist. "The ambush is very similar, and she is the same age. They understand what they're going through. They felt a real pang in their hearts about this one."

On March 23, 2003, Jessica Lynch's 507th Maintenance Company convoy was ambushed near the Iraqi city of Nasiriyah in an attack that killed 11 soldiers. A special operations force rescued her 12 days later from an Iraqi hospital, where she was being held prisoner.

For Pfc. Maupin's family, the wait continues. On April 9, Maupin was declared missing by military officials after an attack on his convoy near Baghdad. A week later, they watched as the rattled man identified himself on a tape broadcast initially by an Arab station.

On Monday, his official status was changed from "duty status whereabouts unknown" to "captured."

Both Mrs. Lynch and her daughter declined to be interviewed, but Jessica Lynch released a statement over the weekend to express her support for the Maupins, all American soldiers and their families.

"The news of Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin's capture is upsetting to me and I know it is for all Americans," she said. "My family and I are praying and will continue to pray for the Maupin family and for Pfc. Maupin's safe return home.

"It's very, very important that we keep Pfc. Maupin, and all of our American soldiers, in our thoughts and prayers."

E-mail kgoetz@enquirer.com




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