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Base Dedicates Computer Lab in Name of Soldier Captured in Iraq

By Sgt. Jason Mikeworth, USA
Special to American Forces Press Service

LOGISTICS SUPPORT AREA ANACONDA, Iraq, Sept. 22, 2005 – Soldiers serving here proved they have not forgotten Army Sgt. Keith Matthew Maupin, the only U.S. soldier still listed as captured in Iraq. Base officials dedicated a new computer lab in Maupin's name Sept. 19.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Army Brig. Gen. Yves Fontaine, commanding general of the 1st Corps Support Command, speaks to Army Sgts. Carie Ramirez, left, and Jennifer Schmidt, both of the 189th Ordnance Company, about the instant messenger service they are using at the Sgt. Matt Maupin Computer Lab on Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq. Photo by Sgt. Jason Mikeworth, USA

(Click photo for screen-resolution image)

The Sgt. Matt Maupin Computer Lab was made possible by the donation of 35 computers by Maupin's parents, Keith and Carolyn Maupin. Another 55 donated computers will be used to set up the Sgt. Matt Maupin Internet Cafe here.

Maupin, of Batavia, Ohio, is assigned to the 724th Transportation Company, an Army Reserve unit based out of Bartonville, Ill. Maupin deployed to Iraq in February 2004.

On April 9, 2004, the one-year anniversary of the fall of Baghdad, Maupin was on a convoy to deliver fuel when it was attacked near the Baghdad International Airport by a force of nearly 200 insurgents. They attacked with small-arms fire, rocket-propelled grenades, machine-gun fire and improvised explosive devices. Shortly after the attack, Maupin's status was listed as "whereabouts unknown."

On April 16, 2004, Maupin was shown alive in a video on the Al-Jazeera television network, and his status was officially changed to captured.

"This lab will allow all warriors who are serving in Iraq to stay in touch with their families, pursue education, or simply enjoy some personal time surfing the World Wide Web," said Army Brig. Gen. Yves Fontaine, the commander of the 1st Corps Support Command and LSA Anaconda. "We open the doors to this facility with the hope that Matt will be found soon."

The Maupins dedicated the computers soldiers' personal use, said Sgt. Maj. Angela Adams, of the 301st Corps Support Group and the non-commissioned officer in charge of the Education Center. A chief complaint of Maupin during phone calls home was the difficulty he had accessing a computer to e-mail home.

Adams also noted the marked improvement over the previous set up. "We used to have 10 laptops that everyone was using," Adams said. "We've had about 8,000 users so far, and that was just on our little laptops."

Adams said she envisions more soldiers being able to complete online college classes and correspondence courses. "Now we'll get more users, and the system is so much faster. It'll give them more services, and more users will be able to use (the computers)," Adams said. "From 10 to 35, you just can't beat it."

Some special improvements had to be made at the Education Center to accommodate the gift, said Army Master Sgt. Marcus Williamson, a communications section chief from the 301st. Extra power and extra Internet lines had to be wired into the computer lab.

Along with college classes and e-mail services, soldiers are able to use instant messaging programs, download pictures from home, and even use Webcams to chat with family.

The computers also feature a picture of Maupin as the background image to remind soldiers he is still held captive.

"These are a dedicated resource to bridge the communication gap," Fontaine said. "Direct communications services provided here will give families and soldiers the ability to share strength, courage, determination and pride. It will keep fathers in touch with daughters, mothers and sons, husbands and wives."

Quoting the motto of the National League of POW/MIA Families, "Not Forgotten," Fontaine spoke of Maupin and what the computer lab symbolizes. "The story is told about Matt, that he is a proud soldier, who knows his duty and does not shirk from it. He is loved and missed by everyone who knows him.

"Our country remains dedicated to finding Matt. The efforts of this lab are representative of the respect and concern our nation has for finding him," the general said. "The systems are for the exclusive use for soldiers and all bear a picture of Sergeant Maupin as a reminder that he is still out there waiting for us."

(Army Sgt. Jason Mikeworth is assigned to the 207th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.)

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Click photo for screen-resolution imageSoldiers salute while the national anthem plays at the dedication ceremony for the Sgt. Matt Maupin Computer Lab at Logistics Support Area Anaconda, Iraq, on Sept. 19. The family of Maupin, the only U.S. Soldier still held captive in Iraq, donated 90 computers to improve soldiers' access to communications with home. Photo by Sgt. Jason Mikeworth, USA  
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