Four long years of hope and prayers, good thoughts, good karma, and whatever allowed them to hold on to something, anything that would bring their son home alive. It's not the news that they wanted or maybe even expected, and Matt's father said probably the only thing a parent could say, "My heart sinks, but I know they can't hurt him anymore.
The AP reported tonight Matt 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 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 actual shooting.
The Maupins refused to believe it was their son, and the Army had listed him as missing-captured. The Maupins lobbied hard for the Army to continue listing their son as missing-captured, fearing that another designation would undermine efforts to find him.
Keith Maupin said the Army told him early on that there was only a 50 percent chance his son would be found alive. He said he doesn't hold the Army responsible for his son's death, but that he did hold the Army responsible for bringing his son home.
"I told them when we'd go up to the Pentagon, whether he walks off a plane or is carried off, you're not going to leave him in Iraq like you did those guys in Vietnam," Maupin said.
Another piece of my heart died tonight when I heard the terrible news. I cannot imagine these 4 years of hell for the Maupin family. At least when Ken was killed in Iraq 4 years ago, I knew that he was dead. I knew he was never coming back, it was final. What kind of cruel karmic twist is it to not know of your child's circumstances for 4 years? I imagine the Army will tell them the details they have, but I wonder if they, like the family of Pat Tillman will ever know the truth.
I met Carolyn & Keith Maupin the first time 3 years ago at Rolling Thunder at the Pentagon on Memorial Day weekend. They were distributing this photo pin of Matt so that people would be reminded that this war/ occupation has left us with soldiers Missing in Action or as they call them now, DUSTWUN (Duty Status Whereabouts Unknown). The pin has been hanging on my mirror in my bedroom, so I would think of Matt and his family every single day hoping that good news would arrive that day. The photo is inscribed "Love Never Loses it's Way Home". This story did not end the way we wished, but Matt is coming home, finally and the waiting is mercifully over. My condolences to the Maupin family and the friends who knew Matt and those who just knew of him.
Most people would be surprised to know that there are 3 other members of the military Missing in Action in Iraq. We should not forget Ahmed Qusai al-Taei: Status - missing-captured (23-Oct-2006), Spc. Alex R. Jimenez: Status - missing-captured
(12-May-2007), Pvt. Byron W. Fouty: Status - missing-captured 12-May-2007. Between 1900 - 2500 members of the military from the Viet Nam war are still listed as MIA. I'm sure a piece of their hearts died today when they heard the news about Matt. My thoughts are with all of these families, too, on this sad night. We will not forget.