Ballpark funeral on Sunday for long-missing Ohio soldier

Eds: UPDATES with crowds at visitation, ADDS background, byline. Will be led after funeral at 1 p.m. EDT.

AP Photo OHDK103

By TERRY KINNEY

Associated Press Writer

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Military personnel and supporters from across the country joined an Ohio family Sunday at a memorial service for an Army reservist whose remains were found in Iraq last month, nearly four years after his capture.

Thousands attended a visitation at a civic center in Clermont County, east of Cincinnati, where Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin grew up, before heading to Great American Ball Park, the home of the Cincinnati Reds, for the afternoon memorial.

Among them were members of the Illinois-based 724th Transportation Company, the unit Maupin was a member of when his fuel convoy was attacked near Baghdad on April 9, 2004.

Maupin, then a 20-year-old private first class, was listed as missing-captured until a tip from local Iraqis led to the discovery of his remains on the outskirts of Baghdad, about 12 miles from where the convoy was ambushed.

The Army had promoted Maupin three times since his capture, to keep his military career on a par with his contemporaries if he survived. At a private ceremony with his family on Saturday, the Army awarded Maupin the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal, the POW Medal and other commendations.

Maupin became the face of the war in Iraq for many Americans after the Arab television network Al-Jazeera aired a videotape in April 2004 showing him wearing camouflage and a floppy desert hat, sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.

Two months later, another Al-Jazeera tape purported to show Maupin being shot, but the dark, grainy images showed only the back of the victim's head and not the execution.

Since his capture, the Yellow Ribbon Support Center founded by his parents, Keith and Carolyn Maupin, has sent nearly 10,000 packages of toiletries, magazines, snacks and games to soldiers. They have said that work will continue.

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On the Net:

http://www.yellowribbonsupportcenter.com

http://www.mattmaupin.us/