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Remains found of U.S. soldier captured in Iraq

Staff Sgt. Maupin, 20, had been missing since 2004, when his fuel convoy was ambushed west of Baghdad.

March 31, 2008|From the Associated Press

BATAVIA, OHIO — The military has recovered the remains of Staff Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, listed as missing-captured in Iraq since 2004, the soldier's father said Sunday.

Keith Maupin said an Army general told him DNA testing had identified his son, known as Matt. He said the Army didn't say how or where in Iraq his son's remains were discovered, only that officials found a shirt similar to the one his son had been wearing at the time of his disappearance.

"My heart sinks, but I know they can't hurt him anymore," Maupin said.

Matt Maupin, 20, was a 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, with a narrator saying it was Maupin. But the dark and grainy tape showed only the back of the victim's head.

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 a different designation would undermine efforts to find him. He was promoted to staff sergeant after his capture.

Lt. Lee Packnett, an Army public affairs officer in Washington, confirmed that the Maupins were notified Sunday that their son's remains had been identified.

Keith Maupin and his ex-wife, Carolyn, held a candlelight vigil Sunday night outside the Yellow Ribbon Support Center in Batavia, an office they used to package thousands of boxes of donated snacks and toiletries for soldiers in Iraq.

"It hurts," Carolyn Maupin said of her son's death. "After you go through almost four years of hope, and this is what happens, it's like a letdown, so I'm trying to get through that right now."

Four U.S. service members remain missing in Iraq. Sgt. Alex R. Jimenez, 25, and Pfc. Byron W. Fouty, 19, were abducted after an ambush in 2007. Ahmed Qusai Taei, a 41-year-old Iraqi-born reserve soldier from Ann Arbor, Mich., was abducted while visiting his Iraqi wife on Oct. 23, 2006. Navy Capt. Michael Speicher has been missing since his plane was shot down during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

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