A community in Ohio today welcomed one of its own sons.
"Welcome home, Staff Sgt. Matt Maupin, mission accomplished. We are so very proud of you," said retired Lt. Gen. James Campbell, representing the Army.
It was a tremendous outpouring of support for a fallen soldier, whose remains were discovered in Iraq last month, after his capture four years ago. More than 5,000 people showed up at a memorial service for Maupin at the ballpark of his home team, the Cincinnati Reds.
"I was with Matt when he became a soldier, I am here with him in the end," said Army Master Sgt. Billy Ray Durham, who recruited Maupin.
Maupin's flag-draped casket was on a platform in the area of the pitcher's mound. Members of his unit, the Illinois-based 724th Transportation Co., were among those on the field.
"I think it says a lot for our area for our country, for the men and women that are serving. I thank God every day that we have them there," said nearby resident Nancy Arnold, who has a son serving in the Navy.
Ohio has suffered its fair share of the burden of the war in Iraq, ranking sixth in the nation when it comes to soldier's deaths.
Today's goodbye was particularly difficult. Maupin's family held out hope for four years that their son would return home alive.
Maupin enlisted when he was 20 years old, over his parents' objections, not long after Sept. 11, 2001.
On April 9, 2004, he went on his final mission. He was captured after his fuel convoy was ambushed west of Baghdad.
One week later Arab TV aired a videotape on which Maupin introduced himself, clearly being held in captivity. Two months later, another clue to what had happened to him surfaced -- a tape, purporting to show his execution. But the search went on, and the family kept hoping.
The Maupins gained a great deal of respect in their community, starting the Yellow Ribbon Support Center, which has sent nearly 10,000 care packages to troops in Iraq.
Matt Maupin's father, Keith, vowed he would not shave his beard until Matt came home, but now he still can't bring himself to cut it off.
"We still have three soldiers missing, and 140,000 that need our help," Keith Maupin said today. "As Americans, we need to let 'em know there's people back here that care for them and that's what we're going to do"
It was clear today that the Maupin family's mission will still go on.