First POW-MIA flag raised at rest stop
BUCKEYE LAKE- Carolyn Maupin, mother of Staff Sgt. Keith “Matt” Maupin--who was confirmed as a casualty in Iraq in 2008 after being missing in action for four years--had her wish come true as the first POW/MIA flag raised at an Ohio rest stop flew proudly over the I-70 eastbound rest area, just east of the I-70 and Ohio 79 interchange, Wednesday afternoon.
Matt Maupin disappeared April 9, 2004, west of Baghdad when insurgents attacked his convoy using rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. His remains and part of his uniform were found March 20, 2008, buried in an isolated agricultural region about 25 miles northwest of Baghdad. The individuals believed to be responsible for his capture and death were executed.
Carolyn Maupin worked with ODOT and Ohio Veterans Services representatives in an effort to fly POW/MIA flags all over the State of Ohio in honor of her son and all POWs and MIAs. The Ohio departments agreed that the best way to accomplish this is to fly the black POW/MIA flags between the American and Ohio flags at all Ohio rest stops.
“We’re proud to be part of this effort,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray during a Wednesday afternoon flag raising ceremony. He said it made sense to “marry” the flag with Ohio’s roadways. “It’s a constant reminder that we will never give up hope,” he said.
“(The flag) is a symbol with personal meaning,” said Ohio Department of Veterans Services Director Thomas Moe, who spent five years as a prisoner in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” during the Vietnam War. “This flag reminds me of those dark days,” he said, calling the drizzle falling during the ceremony “tears from heaven.” Moe also mentioned that Sept. 16 is national POW/MIA Recognition Day.
Wray said there was no special reason why the Buckeye Lake vicinity rest stop was chosen as the first to receive a flag other than its proximity to Columbus and ODOT headquarters. He said it’s easily accessible to local media, which attended the ceremony in abundance.
Moe closed his statements with, “We never forgot Matt Maupin.” And, referring to all POWs and MIAs, “We will not forget, or stop the search.”