U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)
IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 705-11
August 11, 2011
DOD Identifies Service Members Killed In CH-47 Crash
The Department of Defense announced today the deaths of 30 servicemembers who were supporting Operation Enduring Freedom. They died August 6, 2011 in Wardak province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed.
The following sailors assigned to an East Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:
Lieutenant Commander (SEAL) Jonas B. Kelsall, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana
- Special Warfare Operator Master Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Santa Barbara, California
- Special Warfare Operator Senior Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Thomas A. Ratzlaff, 34, of Green Forest, Arkansas
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Kraig M. Vickers 36, of Kokomo, Hawaii,
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Brian R. Bill, 31, of Stamford, Connecticut
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) John W. Faas, 31, of Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Kevin A. Houston, 35, of West Hyannisport, Massachusetts
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Matthew D. Mason, 37, of Kansas City, Missouri
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Stephen M. Mills, 35, of Fort Worth, Texas,
- Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician Chief Petty Officer (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist/Diver) Nicholas H. Null, 30, of Washington, West Virginia
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Robert J. Reeves, 32, of Shreveport, Louisiana
- Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Heath M. Robinson, 34, of Detroit, Michigan
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Darrik C. Benson, 28, of Angwin, California
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Parachutist) Christopher G. Campbell, 36, of Jacksonville, North Carolina
- Information Systems Technician Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist/Freefall Parachutist) Jared W. Day, 28, of Taylorsville, Utah,
- Master-at-Arms Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) John Douangdara, 26, of South Sioux City, Nebraska
- Cryptologist Technician (Collection) Petty Officer 1st Class (Expeditionary Warfare Specialist) Michael J. Strange, 25, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL/Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist) Jon T. Tumilson, 35, of Rockford, Iowa,
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Florida, and
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jason R. Workman, 32, of Blanding, Utah.
The following sailors assigned to a West Coast-based Naval Special Warfare unit were killed:
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 1st Class (SEAL) Jesse D. Pittman, 27, of Ukiah, California, and
- Special Warfare Operator Petty Officer 2nd Class (SEAL) Nicholas P. Spehar, 24, of Saint Paul, Minnesota
The soldiers killed were:
- Chief Warrant Officer David R. Carter, 47, of Centennial, Colo. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Aurora, Colorado
- Chief Warrant Officer Bryan J. Nichols, 31, of Hays, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas
- Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, 30, of Lincoln, Neb. He was assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 135th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), Grand Island, Nebraska
- Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, Wash. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas; and
- Spc. Spencer C. Duncan, 21, of Olathe, Kan. He was assigned to the 7th Battalion, 158th Aviation Regiment (General Support Aviation Battalion), New Century, Kansas
The airmen killed were:
- Tech. Sgt. John W. Brown, 33, of Tallahassee, Florida
- Staff Sgt. Andrew W. Harvell, 26, of Long Beach, California; and
- Tech. Sgt. Daniel L. Zerbe, 28, of York, Pennsylvania
All three airmen were assigned to the 24th Special Tactics Squadron, Pope Field, North Carolina
UPDATE: August 12, 2011 — Sergeant Hamburger was posthumously promoted to Staff Sergeant.
Aaron Carson Vaughn bio
Special Warfare Operator First Class, U.S. Navy
Naval Special Warfare Group TWO
Petty Officer 1st Class Vaughn was from Stuart, Florida. He enlisted in the United States Navy in November, 2002.
He graduated from Recruit Training Command, Great Lakes, Illinois on February, 2003. Petty Officer 1st Class Vaughn completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School, Coronado California in April, 2004. He served in a West Coast based Special Warfare Unit from November, 2004 to June, 2008.
He served in an East Coast based SEAL Team from June, 2008 to August, 2011.
Petty Officer 1st Class Vaughn’s awards include the Purple Heart, Defense Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal with ‘V’ for valor, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2) one with “V” for valor, Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Good Conduct Medal (2), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (2) Navy Expert Rifleman Medal, and Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal
Elite Navy SEALs member Aaron Carson Vaughn had asked the military to return him to combat and shipped out just six weeks before he was killed.
Vaughn’s grandmother, Geneva Vaughn of Union City, Tennessee, told The Associated Press that her grandson, a Tennessee native, had wanted to be a SEAL since he was a child and returned to combat just two weeks after his 2-month-old daughter was born this summer.
“Aaron was a Christian and he’s with Jesus today,” Vaughn said. “He told us when we saw him last November that he wasn’t afraid because he knew where he was going, and he said, ‘Granny, don’t worry about me.’
“He was a tough warrior, but he was a gentle man.”
Vaughn, 30, of Stuart, Florida, leaves behind his wife, Kimberly, and two children, 2-year-old son Reagan and 2-month-old daughter Chamberlyn. Vaughn had been based in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and had also seen postings in Coronado, California, Guam, Germany, Iraq and Afghanistan, his grandmother said.
Aaron Vaughn enlisted in November 2002, according to the Navy, and he joined the SEALs straight out of boot camp. He completed Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL School, Coronado, California, in April 2004. Vaughn served in a West Coast based special warfare unit from November 2004 to June 2008, then moved to the East Coast-based SEAL team in June 2008.
Vaughn was already a decorated fighter when he was asked by the Navy to return stateside to become an instructor, his grandmother said. But he chafed under the assignment and applied to SEAL Team Six after two years, earning his way onto the squad in 2010. Geneva Vaughn said he was one of the few SEALs who performed well enough to get his name on the “First Time Every Time Wall,” a benchmark of honor for the few SEALs who pass every test on their first try.
“The last time he was in Afghanistan he received a medal because his team was under fire and couldn’t see the enemy. He left the ones he was with and drew fire and killed the enemy to save the men he was with. We couldn’t tell any of this stuff when he was alive because it was a secret,” Geneva Vaughn said.
Vaughn met his wife, Kimberly, while she was on a USO tour entertaining troops in Guam as a Washington Redskins cheerleader. They married about four years ago.
“Aaron’s hard to miss — 6-feet-4, beautiful guy,” Kimberly told WTTG-TV in Washington from her parents’ home in Burke, Virginia, where she was when she learned her husband was one of the troops killed in the helicopter crash.
Kimberly said she talked with her husband about the dangers inherent in his job, but she usually tried to put it out of her mind.
“You could sit there and worry yourself to pieces, thinking that they’re constantly going to get hurt,” Kimberly said. Aaron believed that “his time, if it were to come early, that it was meant to be. Aaron wouldn’t have wanted to leave this earth any other way than the way he did, and that’s laying down his life serving his country.”
Aaron Vaughn grew up in rural Obion County outside of Union City in northwestern Tennessee and briefly moved with his parents to Stuart as a teen. He returned to Obion County to finish his senior year of high school, then attended two years of college before joining the Navy.
“He was doing what he loved to do and he was a true warrior,” Geneva Vaughn said.
Vaughn’s decorations include the Purple Heart; Defense Meritorious Service Medal Joint Service Commendation Medal with ‘V’ for valor; two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and one with ‘V’ for valor; Presidential Unit Citation; two Navy Good Conduct Medals; National Defense Service Medal; Afghanistan Campaign Medal; Iraq Campaign Medal; Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; two Sea Service Deployment Ribbons; Navy Expert Rifleman Medal and Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal.
VAUGHN, AARON C
SOC US NAVY
- DATE OF BIRTH: 06/24/1981
- DATE OF DEATH: 08/06/2011
- BURIED AT: SECTION 60 SITE 9927
ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
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Michael Robert Patterson was born in Arlington and is the son of a former officer of the US Army. So it was no wonder that sooner or later his interests drew him to American history and especially to American military history. Many of his articles can be found on renowned portals like the New York Times, Washingtonpost or Wikipedia.
Reviewed by: Michael Howard