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Thousands turn out for Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin's homecoming

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By Michelle Malkin  •  April 28, 2008 08:37 PM

At the end of March, I blogged about the discovery of missing Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin’s body in Iraq.

This weekend, thousands upon thousands of mourners turned out in Cincinnati to pay tribute to the fallen soldier:

Yes, there were many tears at Great American Ball Park on Sunday afternoon and later at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, as Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin was finally laid to rest.

But they were not all tears of sorrow.

Pride, love, appreciation for those who wear the uniform – those produced tears, too.

For the 3,502 who came through the turnstiles to pay their respects, for the 3,000 members of the Patriot Guard who remained outside, and for the small group of family and friends who buried him with military honors in a private ceremony later in the afternoon, the final chapter of the Clermont County soldier’s saga was about both healing and thanksgiving. It was for healing the hurt of a family that had endured a four-year nightmare, and for thanksgiving that such young men and women are willing to sacrifice all for their country.

They came to witness the final chapter of a story that gripped the hearts of thousands here and elsewhere around the country for nearly four years – the story of a 20-year-old Army Reservist, assigned to guard a convoy near the Baghdad airport in April 2004 when a brutal attack by Iraqi insurgents left two of his fellow soldiers dead and him a captive.

Next to nothing was known of his fate until his body was found last month by U.S. soldiers northwest of Baghdad.

“In his service, he became a son to all of Batavia and a son to all of Ohio,” Gov. Ted Strickland said. “The Maupins heard the prayers of people from across the state and across the world.”

Two of the monsters involved in his murder have been sentenced to death in Iraq: “Two men responsible for the death of Sergeant Matt Maupin are sentenced to the death penalty. The army reservist’s father says the two men were convicted of crimes against the Iraqi nation. The Maupins spent about an hour with Pentagon officials [last] Thursday afternoon.”

The President sent the following letter:

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Reader Phil e-mails:

Although it is sad that Matt’s remains were finally discovered, at least maybe his family can now have closure and move on with their lives. I am a retired Army Major and have worked as a Defense contractor since retiring in 2004. I was attached to 1st Armored Division 2004-2006 and met the unit in Baghdad. Matt’s capture was
uppermost in everyone’s mind then. Each year on the date of Matt’s capture/disappearance, the 1AD Commanding General would ask for a moment’s quiet and remind everyone that Matt was still missing. We don’t forget our own and refuse to leave them on the field of battle – alive or dead! Some of us take the Ranger Creed to heart; maybe it is
because I started out in a Ranger Battalion.

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