Ohio soldier's dad encouraged by video of captive
Mon, 20 Jul 2009 18:27:28 GMT —
CINCINNATI (AP) - The father of an Ohio soldier whose fate in Iraq was unknown for almost four years before his remains were found says a recently released video of an Idaho soldier captured in Afghanistan suggests his prospects of survival are better.
The video shows Pfc. Bowe Bergdahl, 23, of Hailey, Idaho, his head shaved, eating a meal and sitting cross-legged on what appears to be a bunk. The Army says he was captured June 30.
"At least we know the boy's alive, so that's a good sign," Keith Maupin said Monday. "They need to find him."
Maupin's son, Matt, was a 20-year-old private first class when his fuel convoy was attacked and he was captured in April 2004. A video shown a few days later on the Arab television network Al-Jazeera showed him wearing camouflage and a floppy desert hat, sitting on a floor surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles.
"At least he (Bergdahl) was sitting on a bed, not on the ground with armed guards around him," Maupin said. "So I'm hoping his chances are better than Matt's were."
Al-Jazeera later released a grainy video in which a narrator claimed that Maupin was executed off-camera, but the Army never was able to authenticate the claim. Maupin's remains were found nearly four years later on the outskirts of Baghdad, about 12 miles from where his convoy was ambushed.
Yellow ribbons, long associated with the safe return of soldiers, have sprouted up around Bergdahl's hometown, similar to displays in suburban Cincinnati, where Matt Maupin grew up.
Keith Maupin is still active at the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, which he and his ex-wife Carolyn founded. The support center has sent thousands of boxes of snacks, toiletries, magazines and games to soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bergdahl's family and friends have been reluctant to talk about him, fearful that publicity would compromise his safety. Maupin, who said he had not contacted Bergdahl's family out of respect for their privacy, took the opposite approach when his son was captured.
"I know if they stay quiet, they're not going to get any information," Maupin said. "They've got to stay on top of it."
Maupin figures he provoked some Army bureaucrats because he and Carolyn insisted on regular briefings at the Pentagon and were received numerous times by then-President George W. Bush.
The Pentagon confirmed Bergdahl's identity only Sunday, a day after the video showed up on the Internet and nearly three weeks after he disappeared.
"I know that during Vietnam, they said don't talk about anybody who's captured, because that could end up hurting them. But when Matt was captured, things were different," Maupin said. "An Army colonel said, 'You can talk to anybody you want to talk to, the only thing is we ask you to be responsible for what you say."'
Bergdahl, who is part of an Alaska-based infantry unit, was serving at a base near a known Taliban stronghold at Afghanistan's border with Pakistan. An Army spokeswoman denounced the video - in which Bergdahl expressed fear he would never return home - as Taliban propaganda and a violation of international law.
Bergdahl is listed by the Army as missing-captured, as Maupin was for nearly four years.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)