Nearly five years to the day since her son was killed when the Chinook helicopter he and 29 other U.S. service members were on crashed in Afghanistan, Stuart resident Karen Vaughn will take her message of support for the military to the Republican National Convention.
Vaughn is one of dozens of speakers slated for primetime during the four-day-long convention, which begins Monday.
And she’s set to speak on opening night.
“It’s very emotional to think of everything that’s transpired in that amount of time,” Vaughn said. “It’s very overwhelming.”
Navy SEAL Aaron Carson Vaughn was 30 years old when he was killed on Aug. 6, 2011. In addition to Vaughn and the 29 other U.S. troops killed when the helicopter crashed, eight Afghans and a U.S. military dog also died. Aaron Vaughn left behind a wife, Kimberly, and two children, now 7 and 5 years old.
Since her son’s death, Vaughn and her husband, Billy, have spoken on national and international talk shows and written as contributors for conservative news outlets Breitbart and The Blaze.
Together, they’ve spearheaded efforts to call attention to the conditions under which troops are fighting in Afghanistan. And Vaughn said that will be the focus of her speech Monday night.
With the theme of the night being “Make America Strong Again,” Vaughn said she’ll speak about “defending those who defend us.”
Vaughn also said she wants people to know about the nonprofit she and her husband started in memory of her son, Operation 300, where children whose fathers were killed in action come from across the country to spend a weekend in Martin County.
“They just get to be kids, spending time with father-aged mentors,” she said. The program brings in six groups of 30 children each year, with the next camp coming up at the end of July.
Vaughn said she was asked to speak by the convention several weeks ago. The convention’s organizers were looking for “everyday Americans with stories,” she said, and the RNC press secretary, who worked with Vaughn at an organization where she volunteers, mentioned her name.
“It’s surreal,” she said, “to be able to share our story at such an important moment.”
When to watch: Karen Vaughn will speak at the Republican National Convention at 9:44 p.m. Monday.