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
***NOTE: The following letter to President Obama was written by Billy and Karen Vaughn, parents of Aaron Carson Vaughn of SEAL Team VI who was killed in action in Afghanistan on 8/6/11. It was originally published on WorldTribune.com 2 weeks ago and is re-printed here with the Vaughns’ permission. Learn more about their story at www.forourson.us.
After finally choosing to view the barbaric, on-camera beheading by ISIS of freelance war correspondent James Foley, I have been left with a level of rage known only to those of us who have sacrificed unspeakable offerings on the altar of world peace.
My offering was my only son — Aaron Carson Vaughn. Aaron was a member of SEAL Team VI. He was killed in action when a CH47D Chinook, carrying thirty Americans and eight Afghans was shot down in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan on Aug. 6, 2011.
Many times over the past three years, I have been asked what drove my son to choose his particular career. What made him want to be a Navy SEAL? My answer is simple.
Aaron Vaughn was a man who possessed the courage to acknowledge evil. And evil, once truly acknowledged, demands response. Perhaps this is why so few are willing to look it in the eye. It is much simpler — much safer — to look the other way.
That is, unless you are the leader of the Free World.
As Commander-in-Chief, your actions — or lack thereof — Mr. President, cost lives. As you bumble about in your golf cart, slapping on a happy face and fist-pounding your buddies, your cowardly lack of leadership has left a gaping hole — not only in America’s security — but the security of the entire globe. Your message has come across loud and clear, sir: You are not up to this job. You know it. We know it. The world knows it.
Please vacate the people’s house and allow a man or woman of courage and substance to seize the reigns of this out-of-control thug-fest and regain the balance we, America, have provided throughout our great history.
Thanks to your “leadership” from whatever multi-million dollar vacation you happen to be on at any given moment, the world is in chaos. What’s been gained, you’ve lost. What’s been lost, you’ve decimated. You’ve demolished our ability to hold the trust of allies. You’ve made a mockery of the title “President.” And you’ve betrayed the nation for which my son and over 1.3 million others have sacrificed their very lives.
But this should come as no surprise, since your wife uttered a vile statement on Feb. 18, 2008, during the primary campaign — one that speaks volumes of your true convictions. “For the first time in my adult life, I am really proud of my country,” she said.
I am sure my deceased son thanks you for that, Mrs. Obama. Oh, and you’re welcome.
Never in my lifetime have I witnessed such despair and such growing fear that the world’s last best hope, America, has finally been dismantled. Perhaps the better word is transformed — fundamentally transformed. Come to think of it, it’s become difficult — if not impossible — to believe things haven’t gone exactly as you planned, Mr. President.
Amazingly, in five short years, your administration has lurched from one disaster to another. You spearheaded the ambitious rush to end the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan — with no plan on how to do so effectively. Also, the release of “the Taliban five” in exchange for one American — without consulting Congress — is on your shoulders.
You have been at the helm during unprecedented national security leaks — including, but not limited to the outing of SEAL Team VI on the Bin laden raid, the outing of the Pakistani doctor who provided the intelligence for that raid, the outing of Afghanistan’s CIA station chief, and the outing of your personal “kill list” to make you look tough. In addition, 75 percent of American deaths in Afghanistan and 83 percent of Americans-wounded-in-action have occurred on your watch, according to icasualties.org.
And now, we have this recent, heinous event: the beheading of an American citizen by a barbaric organization you foolishly referred to as “the JV team” in your statements to the New Yorker magazine in January.
You, sir, are the JV team. It’s time for you to step down and allow a true leader to restore our honor and protect our sons and daughters.
America has always been exceptional. And she will be again. You, Mr. President, are a bump in our road.