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Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin is finally coming home.
Maupin went missing April 9, 2004, outside Baghdad when insurgents attacked his convoy using rocket-propelled grenades and small-arms fire. The Army announced Monday that Maupin's remains and a bit of his uniform had been found and identified.
Details of how and where Maupin's remains were found have not been made available, but the Defense Department said that a medical examiner on Saturday confirmed that the remains recovered in Iraq were those of Maupin.
"After a long wait, we want to offer our most sincere condolences to Carolyn and Keith Maupin on the loss of their son," Army Secretary Pete Geren said in a statement.
The Army told Maupin's parents about the discovery during a meeting Sunday in Ohio.
"My heart sinks, but I know they can't hurt him anymore," said his father, Keith Maupin, according to the Associated Press.
"It hurts," Carolyn Maupin told the AP. "After you go through almost four years of hope, and this is what happens, it's like a letdown, so I'm trying to get through that right now."
Maupin, a 24-year-old from Batavia, Ohio, had been listed as missing-captured since April 16, 2004.
A week after he disappeared, the Arab television network Al-Jazeera aired a videotape showing a stunned-looking Maupin wearing camouflage and a floppy desert hat, sitting on the floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles, according to the AP.
That June, Al-Jazeera aired another tape purporting to show a U.S. soldier being shot. But the dark and grainy tape showed only the back of the victim's head and not the execution.
Maupin's status was changed on March 31 to deceased.
Maupin enlisted Oct. 9, 2002, and was assigned to the Army Reserve's 724th Transportation Company in Bartonville, Ill. He was a private first class when he was captured, but was promoted three times while he was missing, most recently in August 2006 to staff sergeant.
Maupin's parents, Keith and Carolyn, have actively pursued information about their son's whereabouts, traveling to the Pentagon and to Army briefings for any new piece of information they could learn. They also founded the Yellow Ribbon Support Center in Cincinnati and have worked to provide moral support, care packages, college scholarships and encouragement to deployed troops and their families.
"The Maupins are people of modest means with great big hearts, and they've touched the lives of thousands," Geren said in his statement. "His parents are helping others with soldiers in harm's way, just like their son, from the Yellow Ribbon Support Center in Cincinnati. The Maupins selflessly serve as a funnel for the generosity of people across America."
Three other U.S. soldiers remain missing in Iraq.
Sgt. Ahmed Altaie, also an Army Reserve soldier, was forcibly taken by masked gunmen in a Baghdad neighborhood Oct. 23, 2006, while visiting family. The Army said Altaie had gone on his own outside the fortified Green Zone to see his Iraqi wife, whom he had married before deploying to Iraq, when he disappeared.
Altaie, 41, is an Iraqi-born resident of Ann Arbor, Mich.
Also missing are two soldiers from 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.
Spc. Alex Jimenez, 25, and Pvt. Byron Fouty, 19, disappeared after a May 12, 2007, ambush south of Baghdad that also took the lives of seven fellow soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter.
Six of the soldiers were killed at the scene, and the body of a seventh soldier who had been missing since the attack was found May 23 in the Euphrates River.
Jimenez and Fouty are assigned to 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment,at Fort Drum, N.Y.
"I want to say this once again to the families of our other captured soldiers in Iraq," Geren said. "We will not stop searching for your loved ones."