Friday, July 2, 2004

Bush phones to bolster Maupins


President pledges 'unwavering support' for soldier's family

By Howard Wilkinson
Enquirer staff writer

President Bush spoke to the family of Spc. Keith "Matt" Maupin by phone Wednesday, assuring them once again that everything possible would be done to bring the 20-year-old Army reservist home alive, an Army spokesman said Thursday.

Bush's phone call came only a few hours after Maupin's parents, Carolyn and Keith Maupin, met privately with Pentagon officials for a briefing on efforts to find and rescue Maupin, who was captured April 9 while driving a truck in a fuel convoy that was attacked by Iraqi militants.

"He pledged his unwavering support to the Maupin family," said Maj. Mark Magalski, the Army casualty assistance officer who has been working closely with the Maupin family for 2 1/2 months.

At a noon press conference Thursday in the parking lot of Willowville Elementary School in Union Township, only a few hundred yards from the Maupin home, Magalski and Maj. Willie Harris, public affairs officer of the 88th Regional Readiness Command, said there is still no evidence to suggest that Maupin was the person seen on Al-Jazeera television being shot in the back of the head in a dark, grainy video.

"Matt Maupin's status remains the same - captured, whereabouts unknown," said Harris.

Magalski said the president's call came in on his cell phone about 1 p.m. Wednesday. The cell was passed around among the parents and Maupin's two brothers so they could all speak to the president, Magalski said.

Maupin's parents have had two face-to-face meetings with the president since their son was captured. Both came when Bush was in the Cincinnati area.

Magalski said the Maupin family is grateful for the support it has received from the community in the form of prayers, e-mail messages and the thousands of yellow ribbons that line the roadways of Union Township.

He said they want to remind the community that another Clermont County family has suffered a loss in the Iraq war - the mother and sisters of Sgt. Charles "Chuck" Kiser, formerly of Amelia, an Army reservist who was killed last week in Iraq.

The 37-year-old Kiser, whose mother, Glenda, and five sisters still live in Clermont County, was buried Thursday in Wisconsin, where he has lived in recent years.

Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud said Carolyn Maupin is expected to be one of the speakers at a "celebration of life" ceremony for Kiser at 7 p.m. Monday in front of the Clermont County Courthouse in Batavia.

Magalski said Carolyn Maupin and Glenda Kiser have spoken several times since the Maupins attended church with the Kiser family Sunday.

"They bonded immediately as mothers of soldiers," Magalski said.

E-mail hwilkinson@enquirer.com




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