With tomorrow being Memorial Day, it’s important that we all take the time sometime during the course of this weekend to remember those who have given their lives in defense of freedom. While it’s a good idea to appreciate all veterans for their service every day—and we have Veterans’ Day in November as well–Memorial Day is a particular time to salute the ones who never made it home.
One of those was Special Operations Chief Aaron Vaughn, a Navy SEAL who was highly decorated for his service during his many deployments around the world—including several to Afghanistan and Iraq. He was among 30 servicemen killed in action in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011 when his CH-47 Chinook helicopter was shot down. He left behind a wife and two very young children—his youngest, a daughter, was just 8 weeks old at the time of his death. She’ll never remember being held by him or get the chance to walk down the aisle with him by her side on her wedding day.
Such is the case with thousands of children whose parents (usually their fathers) are taken away as they bravely defend our freedom in foreign lands. As a way to honor SOC Vaughn, his family started a non-profit organization that reaches out to these fatherless children in a meaningful way. Operation 300 holds camps in Florida for children who lost their dads in war. For a few days, the widows can meet with other widows while the kids go and have extreme adventures with mentors—men who provide them with guidance and memorable adventures such as riding horses, archery, shooting guns, sailing and surfing. According to the family, Aaron was fun and adventurous, and these are the kinds of things he would have loved doing himself. He was also a man of deep faith, who knew from the time he was a little boy that he wanted to be a Navy SEAL, and these camps give the kids more than just a chance to have fun. The camps give them the opportunity to create memories with men of integrity.
Operation 300 Founder and President, Tara Vaughn Baldwin (Aaron’s sister) said, “It is only fitting that to honor him, we give kids who have lost so much the opportunity to live like Aaron…if only for a short time.”
The organization has big dreams for the future. They are hoping to buy property of their own in order to establish a permanent home for Operation 300. They hold at least 4 camps each year, which benefit about 100 children, and all expenses for the children of these fallen heroes and their mothers are paid for by the organization. If you feel inclined to do so, donations can be made here.
“Greater love has no one than this: that one lay down his life for his friends.” -John 15:13