Three years ago this April 9th, then PFC Keith "Matt" Maupin, assigned to the Army Reserve 724th Transportation Company, was captured by Iraqi insurgents when his convoy of fuel trucks was ambushed while enroute from Camp Anaconda to Baghdad International Airport.
He had been "in country" for six weeks.
A week later, Al Jazeera aired a video that included Maupin giving his name, rank and serial number, indicating that he was being held by a roup known as the "Sharp Sword Against the Enemies of God and His Prophet". The group indicated that they would be willing to trade Maupin for prisoners being held by the U.S.
Two months later, another video showed a man in desert camouflage, sitting in front of a hole in the ground. The man, identified as Maupin, was shown only from the back...and then, apparently, was shot in the head. A statement released with the video claimed that Maupin had been killed because the U.S. refused to negotiate the release of Iraqi prisoners.
But three years later, doubt remains.
The figure sitting in the dirt is only shown from behind, so there is no proof that is was Maupin. His family has seen stills of the video and insists that is was not. And since his body has never been recovered, his family still hopes that he will return home to them one day.
But in the last three years, the trail has grown cold. Despite thousands of tips, an Arabic-language commercial aired several hundred times in Iraq, and a $200,000 reward for the return or recovery of Maupin, the search for the young soldier continues.
But the Maupin family continues to hope.
"Sometimes I think I hear him say, 'I'm OK, Mom. I'm OK," [Maupin's mother, Carolyn, recently told American Legion Magazine.] "I'll be praying or I'll be talking to him, and I can feel him. And I wnder, is that my subconcious or am I really hearing this? I must be, beacuse if it were my subconcious it would be every day. But it's not every day that I hear him. So I hold on to that."
Recently, the Maupin family got an unexpected gift from the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines. Two flags, one American and one a POW/MIA flag, both of which had flown at their base in Fallujah, were sent to the Maupin's, with a certificate saying that the Marines were still searching for the missing soldier.
Maupin remains on active duty and was recently promoted to Staff Sergeant.
Since he is listed as 'missing/captured', American forces will continue to search for him.
And we will not forget him.