By Reid Forgrave
Enquirer staff writer
UNION TWP. - Four months ago, Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin, a broad-shouldered and baby-faced 20-year-old graduate of Glen Este High School, was riding shotgun in a mile-long convoy near Baghdad when rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire rained in.
Today, the world goes on, but not for Maupin's parents, Keith and Carolyn. Their son, captured April 9, is America's longest-held wartime military hostage since Vietnam.
Carolyn Maupin in her Union Township home with a few of the thousands of cards and letters she has received in support of her son Matt.
(Enquirer photo/GLENN HARTONG)
The Maupin family continues to hold out hope their son will return alive. They deeply appreciate the outpouring of support from Clermont County and Greater Cincinnati - from plastering the area with yellow ribbons, to placing electric candles in windows, and holding vigils for Maupin and other troops.
The Maupin family has received about 10,000 pieces of mail - sometimes as many as 500 letters a day - from military boosters, concerned parents and others worldwide.
One letter was addressed only to "the soldier captured in Iraq, Batavia, OH" - but it reached the Maupins anyway.
"They're really touching, especially the ones from the kids," said Keith Maupin. "You know it comes from the heart. And we've read all of these. They take the time to send 'em, we take the time to read 'em."
On June 28, Al-Jazeera aired a video purporting to show Maupin's execution, but military officials proclaimed the video too grainy and, therefore, inconclusive. On July 13, the family observed Maupin's 21st birthday by eating cake and posting a POW/MIA flag in their front yard.
But even President Bush, who has twice visited the Maupins, has been unable to provide new information. Maupin's official status remains "captured."
The Maupins shared several letters with the Enquirer. They reveal a breadth of prayer and support for, as one letter-writer puts it, "America's son."
"It's uplifting to us because you know so many people are thinking about you," Carolyn Maupin said. "The fact that so many people actually take the time to think of us, and they don't even know us, it's just amazing. I don't want this to fade away. He's still a missing soldier, and he shouldn't be forgotten."
Dear Maupin family,
We heard about Matt's situation. Being in prison ourselves we do have a glimpse of what Matt is going through. Therefore we have joined hands to pray for him trusting God to deliver him. We believe that nothing, absolutely nothing, is difficult for the Lord. Believe with us and fear not. God bless you.
Your brothers in Christ,
(The card is signed by 30 people who, according to the military, are imprisoned in Egypt for practicing Christianity. One of the political prisoners mailed the note to a relative, who forwarded it to the Maupin family.)
Dear Maupin family,
Hi my name is Amy Elam. I am 11 yrs old and I am in 6th grade at Gleneste Middle School on team 6-2 and I think Matt will be fine and I really really hope he will be OK, because I know how you feel because last year I lost my great grandfather on November 15 and then I could of lost my brother at age 18 because he fell three stories and he is paraplegic he feel November 29 only a short time after my great grandfather died and before all that my cousin was born with kemo or leukemia. I just wrote again because I forgot a lot of things that I wanted you to know. I am sad that he has been captured but I think if we give up one of there people they should give up Matt. Some of my family members know Matt and other family members. I wanted to tell you what I think. I think Matt is so brave for risking his life for our freedom but for staying calm while he is held captured. When Matt comes home I will be happy for him because I know it has to be hard for you. I went to both schools that Matt also went to (Gleneste, Willoville). Everybody I know has yellow ribbons all over. I made my mom go buy more yellow ribbon today for her car for Matt and our troops, but I am so sorry about Matt because he is fighting for our freedoms and his freedoms. I am sure he would want to be home with his family and friends than captured. You should think positive and prepare for the worst but hope for the best. I am hoping for the best for Matt, our troop members and family members. I will keep Matt and all troop members in my thoughts and prayers.
Sincerely, Amy Elam
To PFC Keith Matthew Maupin's family,
Love and prayers coming to all of you from Palm Desert, Ca. Mr. Redmond and I appreciate what Matt has done for us here in America.
We hope he will be home soon with all of you. We pray for his safe return.
We will hang yellow ribbons up in honor of him and his service to our country. May God bless and keep Matt out of any more harm.
Fondly, Sharon and Richard Redmond of Palm Desert, California
Dear Maupin Family:
Why a yellow rose bush? Yellow roses mean "peace" and it is peace that we wish for Matt and your entire family. You all so much deserve it.
The garden stepping stone is a wish we're sure every parent has when their child meets an untimely fate, whether it is captivity or worse.
We're hoping you are able to plant this one day, just as a small, living tribute to a wonderful young man. The bush has so many unopened blooms, but no number can compare to the numbers of lives your family has touched in these 81 days. By your strength, perseverance and demeanor. We hope and pray Matt would come one to see all the yellow symbols of peoples' thoughts for him. We still do. We've added several more yellow ribbons just this evening.
If there is anything a neighbor can do for you, now or any time, please do not hesitate to contact us. Now or anytime down the road.
You're in our thoughts and prayers... The Dodds Family of Batavia (Joseph Henry Dodds V, Debbie Dodds, Joe Dodds IV, Heather Dodds, Linda J. Harder)
"A delay is not a denial from God."
I am so sorry that your wait has been long. I continue to pray for Matt's safety and your patience. You are such a wonderful person with so much strength. When you start to feel down - just remember the prayer meeting we went to and how we felt God's spirit comforting & blessing us. It was an experience that we will never forget. Remember the peace that came over you that day. God is surrounding you and Matt with his angels and He is watching over you both. His reasons will be revealed in His time.
"Sometimes it's hard to wait on the Lord. He may not answer our prayers right when we want him to - but He is a faithful God, and He will surely answer you in the best way imaginable, because He loves you."
Love you, Dianne (Dianne Naylor of Belle Vernon, Pa.)
"To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven." - Ecclesiastes 3:1
You do not need to send me back a card - I already know you appreciate it. I send them to you, because I don't know what else to do for you. I want you to know that I think of you all the time. I start my mornings by praying for Matt. I pin his picture on my shirt everyday, and I talk to him. When I go to bed at night, I talk to him again, and kiss his cheek good night. I pray to God again to bring him home to us, safely! I figure God has got to hear us! Matt has to be getting tired of this 'old woman' talking to him and kissing his cheek!
If we can do anything, please let us know! We are here for you!
God bless you and Matt, 'America's Son'!
The Fitzpatrick Family, Brian, Kathy and Lora (of Batavia)
Dear Maupin Family,
I am praying for your family and your son Keith, God bless your son and family, But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31
Megan Dillon, 10 years from Hosanna Christian School (in Klamath Falls, Ore.)
"Our Soldiers" By: Alison Lohstroh
Dedicated to: Matt Maupin
Guardian Angels all over Iraq, one to guard each soldier's back.
The soldier fights for country and home, knowing that he's not alone.
Along with other soldiers like him, the soldier fights and fights to win.
Civilians can sleep in peace at night, because of soldiers that are willing to fight...
Some joined to get money to pay for school. Others thought their enlistment bonus was really cool.
Some joined because early retirement sounded good. Others followed tradition and did what their family would.
Some joined to get life straightened out, many didn't understand what it was all about.
No matter their reasons or what they knew, they joined something deep and true.
They became part of a brotherhood, strong and true, of young men and women like me and you...
One word needs to be said, that's not said enough.
Thank you to all the soldiers brave and tough.
Thank you soldiers who left their homes to fight and keep us safe.
Thank you to those who gave their lives to keep our country free.
Thank you mothers and fathers for letting your children go.
Thank you husbands and wives for staying strong for your spouse who has left...
Thank you to the ones probably thanked the least:
Thank you to the soldiers who keep our peace.
Writing to the Maupin family
Letters to the Maupin family should be sent to: The Maupin Family, c/o Clermont Yellow Ribbon, Batavia, OH, 45103.
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