Friend says captured Ohio soldier calm under stress

Sunday, April 18, 2004

BATAVIA, Ohio -- A young Army reservist taken hostage in Iraq has what it takes to withstand the ordeal, friends say.

"He's strong mentally, he's strong spiritually -- he's going to be fine," said David Black, a family friend.

Pfc. Keith M. Maupin, known as Matt, had been missing since his convoy was attacked April 9 outside Baghdad. In footage first shown Friday on Arabic TV network Al-Jazeera, Maupin appeared unhurt and was surrounded by masked men who offered to exchange him for imprisoned Iraqi fighters.

Maupin, 20, was the first U.S. serviceman and second American confirmed kidnapped in a recent string of abductions.

In Maupin's hometown of Batavia, hundreds gathered Friday night for a vigil in front of the county courthouse.

Maupin was attending the University of Cincinnati and working part time when he was called to active duty in November. He went to Iraq Feb. 17.

Maupin joined the Army Reserves in August 2002, partly because of tuition benefits, but mostly because of a sense of duty that had driven him since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Black's wife, Diana.

Diana Black remembers Maupin's mother, Carolyn, was not enthusiastic about his choice.

"Carolyn said, 'Are you sure this is what you want to do?"' Diana Black said. "He said it was."

Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch released a statement Saturday in a show of support for Maupin's family.

"The news of Pfc. Keith Matthew Maupin's capture is upsetting to me and I know it is for all Americans, too," Lynch said. "It's very, very important that we keep Pfc. Maupin, and all of our American soldiers, in our thoughts and prayers."

Lynch, a former Army supply clerk, is still recovering from injuries suffered when her 507th Maintenance Company got lost in the southern Iraqi desert and was ambushed in Nasiriyah in March 2003. She was later rescued from an Iraqi hospital by special forces.

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