It wasn’t the news that Clermont County had hoped and prayed for, but local soldier Matt Maupin is finally coming home.
The remains of U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Matt Maupin have now been found and identified in Iraq.
The sad news comes three years and 11 months after Maupin’s fuel convoy was ambushed near the Baghdad International Airport and he was captured in April 2004.
Parents Keith and Carolyn Maupin learned Sunday that their son had been killed in Iraq after a three-star general informed the couple that DNA evidence had confirmed the identity of their then 20-year-old-son.
Keith Maupin said that they have not yet received word as to how or when his son was killed; the grieving father only knows that it was somewhere in northwest Iraq.
Since Maupin's capture in 04, and the subsequent videos that showed him as a hostage and then being executed (which was never confirmed by the military), Maupin had been officially listed as the only U.S. soldier still classified as captured/missing in action.
To keep hope alive for Maupin's safe return home, and to help with other military personnel fighting overseas, Keith and Carolyn Maupin founded the Yellow Ribbon Support Center shortly after Matt's capture.
The ubiquitous yellow ribbons began to appear around the county, "lighting the way home" campaign memorials were set up across the county, and at Glen Este High School, where Matt graduated from, an annual scholarship dinner was founded in his name, T-shirts and buttons proliferated, and a welcome pavilion on East Fork State Park's Bantam Beach was built and dedicated in his honor.
A disappointed and grieving community will never forget the sacrifice that he made, said Clermont County commissioner Bob Proud, who started the "light the way home" campaign with the family shortly after Matt's capture.
"Now we have lit his way home," Proud said at the vigil, which attracted more than 100 people. "He is our native son, we are proud of him, his selfless sacrifice."
Now that Clermont County's long agonizing wait has ended, Proud said that the healing that comes with some closure can now begin.
The Maupins, who have vowed to continue the work of the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, thanked and appreciated the prayers and support of an entire united community during the long wait for news of Matt Maupin; they also thanked all those who continued searching for their son and who never gave up on a happy ending.
"Matt is coming home," Keith Maupin said. "He's completed his mission."
The county commissioners will pay tribute to Maupin by proclaiming April 9, the day of his capture, as Matt Maupin Day in Clermont County.
Funeral arrangements for the fallen Union Township native have not yet been announced.