BATAVIA, Ohio – The hometown of an American soldier taken hostage in Iraq was decked with yellow ribbons and American flags as friends and neighbors held a vigil to show support, saying they were relieved to see video footage of him even as they worried about his safety.
Army Pfc. Keith M. Maupin (search), known as Matt, was shown on video footage Friday surrounded by five masked men holding automatic rifles. He was captured April 9.
"We'd like to say, 'Matt, we love you and we can't wait until we get to hug you again,"' said Carl Cottrell II, a friend of the family serving as its spokesman. Cottrell wore a yellow ribbon pinned to his shirt and was flanked by military officers who went to the home to be with the family.
Cottrell declined to answer questions.
Police closed off Main Street in downtown Batavia (search) on Friday night to accommodate several hundred people who gathered for the vigil.
An honor guard of former Marines stood in front of the county courthouse next to a 2-foot-by-21/2-foot photo of Maupin in uniform. Several members of the crowd wore a smaller version of the photo pinned to their shirts.
"He's a great kid," said Peggy Luck, a bus driver from Maupin's former southwest Ohio school district. "Every parent wants a kid to grow up to be like him."
Cottrell thanked the crowd for attending, saying the past week has been difficult for the family. "But the truth is, today brought somewhat of a ray of light, to know that Matt is still with us."
Yellow ribbons dotted the family's neighborhood of modest one-story houses about 15 miles east of Cincinnati. Several American flags were flying outside homes.
Stella Hiltbrand, a neighbor, said she did not know the Maupin family, displayed a yellow ribbon on her mailbox.
"I plan to get a bigger yellow ribbon and pray for him," she said. "I think that's the most important thing, to pray for him."
Maupin and Sgt. Elmer C. Krause, 40, of Greensboro, N.C., were listed as missing after their convoy was attacked April 9 outside Baghdad.