Warrior Ethos Drives Search for Missing Soldiers


By: Greg C. Reeson

Army News Service reported recently that Sergeant Keith “Matt” Maupin had been promoted to Staff Sergeant, his third promotion since being captured as a Private First Class after his convoy was attacked by insurgents near Baghdad, Iraq on April 9, 2004. News reports about Staff Sergeant Maupin get a lot of media attention because he is the only soldier listed as “Missing: Captured” in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The Army press release announcing his promotion, though, is notable for another reason. It demonstrates in one simple phrase the steadfast commitment of the United States military to account for all of its service members, whether dead and not recovered or missing in action.

“This will keep Staff Sergeant Maupin in line with his peers so that when he returns….” When he returns? The faith and optimism of the message are clear. Make no mistake about it, the Army intends to find Staff Sergeant Maupin and bring him home. And failure is not an option.

This attitude is embodied in what the Army refers to as the “Warrior Ethos.” It is a series of four statements, embedded within the Soldier’s Creed, that affirm the principles of character the American people have come to respect in their soldiers. “I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade.” It is a frame of mind that dictates selfless service to the nation, the mission, the Army, and fellow soldiers. It does not allow for failure and it inspires our soldiers to accomplish the impossible under unimaginable circumstances.

American soldiers live and breathe this “Warrior Ethos” every day as they serve their country at home and abroad, in peace and in harm’s way. They are dedicated to their nation and to each other. And amid the chaos and confusion inherent in a global war on terror, they continue to search for their comrades, from this conflict and from conflicts past.

Under the direction of the Defense Prisoner of War / Missing Personnel Office, U.S. government civilians and uniformed military personnel actively pursue the cases of our soldiers missing from all of America’s wars. Diplomats confer with representatives from other nations and negotiate for access to battle sites. Search and recovery teams interview witnesses and conduct excavations in methodical searches for remains or personal effects. And soldiers in the middle of a ruthless insurgency in Iraq selflessly continue the hunt for any sign of Navy Captain Michael Scott Speicher or Staff Sergeant Matt Maupin, despite the fact that a war rages around them and death could come in an instant.

Of the 2,583 service members originally listed as missing from the Vietnam Conflict, 775 have been repatriated and identified. Efforts continue there and in Laos and Cambodia to account for the remaining 1,808. From actions associated with the Cold War, 21 sets of remains have been repatriated and the quest for accountability continues for the 77 still missing. Teams of Americans relentlessly work in Korea, Burma, Japan, China, Russia, and numerous other countries to ensure that our nation’s defenders eventually make their way home.

The search for our missing never ends because their comrades and their country will not allow it. The “Warrior Ethos” embedded in the character of our uniformed men and women demands that we never forget the sacrifices of those who have served this nation.

September 15 has been designated as National POW / MIA Recognition Day. Across the country and in far away lands members of our Armed Forces will gather to remember those among them who remain unaccounted for. Memorials will be held, veteran’s organizations will hold rallies, and government officials will make speeches. In Bartonville, Illinois friends and family will come together to remember Staff Sergeant Maupin and to pray for his safe return.

Every American should take the opportunity that day to pause and reflect on what it means to be an American soldier. Every one of us should put our hate for the war or our hate for the protestors on hold for just a little while. Then maybe we can come together as Americans to thank our soldiers, and to honor their service.

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