- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 7, 2007

BATAVIA, Ohio (AP) — Yellow ribbons across Sgt. Matt Maupin’s hometown are constant reminders. Fundraising events in his honor draw crowds. Soldiers back home relay details of the ongoing search for him in Iraq.

These are the signs of support and hope that keep Sgt. Maupin’s parents going three years after he was captured in an insurgent attack on his Army convoy.

Keith Maupin said he took comfort hearing from the father of a military interrogator in Iraq who said detainees are asked if they know anything about his missing son.

“He said, ‘These guys are not going to give up on Matt. Their mission is to stay focused on finding Matt and get all the information they can out of these detainees,’ ” Mr. Maupin said. “That made me feel good.”

The Army won’t confirm that detainees are questioned about Sgt. Maupin.

“We don’t talk about what we are or aren’t doing,” Lt. Col. Bob Tallman said. “We don’t want to alert the enemy, who may do something to the individual or move him.”

Sgt. Maupin was a 20-year-old private first class when he was captured April 9, 2004, after his fuel convoy, part of the 724th Transportation Company, was ambushed west of Baghdad.

A week later, the Arab television network Al Jazeera aired a videotape showing Sgt. Maupin sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.

That June, Al Jazeera aired another tape purporting to show a U.S. soldier being shot. But the dark and grainy tape showed only the back of the victim’s head and not the shooting.

The Maupins refuse to think it was their son, and the Army continues to list him as missing/captured, Col. Tallman said.

More than 1,000 people are expected at a banquet fundraiser tomorrow, the third anniversary of Sgt. Maupin’s capture. About 700 bikers are expected Saturday for a motorcycle ride sponsored by Rolling Thunder, a prisoners-of-war, missing-in-action awareness group. A youth baseball tournament in May drew more entries than it could handle, even though games will be played on several fields.

All are raising money for the Matt Maupin Scholarship Fund, seed money for scholarships given by the high schools attended by Cincinnati-area troops who died in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Mr. Maupin has lost track of the number of briefings he and his former wife Carolyn have received from the Pentagon. They’ve been persistent and he thinks the Army is doing its best to find his son.

There’s a yellow ribbon on every parking meter in Batavia, a close-knit, county-seat community east of Cincinnati.

“We won’t let people forget,” Clermont County Commissioner Bob Proud said. “Whenever we see yellow ribbons, we think about Matt and all our warriors. It always reminds me of the sacrifice that Matt and all of our troops have made.”

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