Maupin gets surprise payback for longtime care of troops

UNION TWP.— If Keith Maupin didn’t know how much the community appreciates what he’s done for U.S. troops, he found out Wednesday morning.

Dozens of people descended on his Clermont County home and surprised him with plans to begin – immediately – a major makeover of his house and garage using donated material and labor.

The procession of volunteers, friends and donors was led down Mount Carmel-Tobasco Road by police on motorcycles and Patriot Guard Riders. The latter often are invited to memorial services for fallen military members, but “this is a fun one for us,” said Patriot Guard assistant state captain Mike Hamilton of West Chester Township.

Maupin, he said, “has been steadfast about taking care of the troops and seeing that they’re supported. He’s never faltered. And he’s always there for us whenever we need anything. We felt it was time for payback.”

Indeed, people said they got involved because they know how much Maupin has given. And they know how much he has lost.

His son, Keith “Matt” Maupin, graduated from Glen Este High School in 2001, a few months before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. He enrolled at the University of Cincinnati. To help pay for his education, in 2002 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Reserve.

He was deployed to Iraq in February 2004. On April 9, the 20-year-old private first class was captured when his convoy was ambushed by insurgents.

The Yellow Ribbon Support Center, run by Keith Maupin, was founded that year. It sent care packages to soldiers in Iraq; each package included photos of Matt, with a note asking for help finding him.

When it became apparent that many more troops were lacking basic necessities, the Support Center’s efforts broadened. Packages were sent to the unit of any soldier whose family requested it.

Meanwhile, after being declared missing in action, Matt Maupin was promoted three times, reaching the rank of staff sergeant.

In March 2008, his remains were recovered and returned home.

Since then, the Support Center has continued to send packages to troops. That tally now exceeds 22,000. What’s more, the Let Us Never Forget Scholarship Fund, part of the support center, was created in 2006 to provide college scholarships in the name of fallen military members from the area. The fund has since awarded more than $400,000 to high school seniors.

The nonprofit center, based in a strip mall in Eastgate the past nine years, was recently told its rent would more than triple. Unable to find an affordable space, Maupin decided to move the center, which now includes a museum, into a large garage behind his house.
He was there Wednesday, talking with a contractor about drywall, as dozens of people gathered outside.

Shannon Moore, who owns Moore Plumbing in Fayetteville, was among them. While repairing a sink in Maupin’s home recently, he saw how much more needed to be done.

“His refrigerator wasn’t working,” Moore said. “His air conditioner wasn’t working.” And it was apparent the house hadn’t been updated for many years.

“I don’t think he would do it for himself,” Moore said. “He’s too worried about everybody else. He puts all his money right back into the Yellow Ribbon Foundation.”

Moore’s idea, initially, was to surprise Maupin by renovating the kitchen and bathroom. But “it snowballed into something huge.”

Michael Barrett had a lot to do with that. He’s owner of MAB HVAC Services in Covington. He learned from Keith Maupin’s fiancé, Erica Huff, that because of the broken air conditioning, Maupin had been sleeping in his van on hot nights.

Barrett fixed the air conditioner, then started making calls.

In all, about 20 contractors, suppliers and other businesses agreed to help. Major commitments came from Sears, Home Depot, Furniture Fair, Handyman Connection, Icon Solar, Bryant Habegger, Trane and Brooks Flooring.

It might take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months to complete all the work.

Maupin, surprised and grateful, acknowledged that his house needs work. But he seemed especially pleased that just steps from his home the Yellow Ribbon Support Center will be able to continue its two-fold mission: supporting members of the military who are in harm’s way, and remembering those, like Matt Maupin, who made the ultimate sacrifice.