JONESVILLE — The daughter of a soldier who died in a prisoner of war camp during the Korea War was presented Monday with an American flag flown over the US Capitol in honor of her father’s memory.
On April 23, 1951, Army Pfc. Aubrey D. Vaughan was captured by Communist Chinese forces when his unit’s position near Undamjang, North Korea was overrun. In the aftermath of the battle, Vaughan, a member of Company C, 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Regimental Combat Team, was reported missing in action.
Shortly after the end of the Korean War, American soldiers repatriated from Communist captivity, reported that Vaughan had died while in captivity in POW Camp 1 in 1951. The US Army subsequently declared Vaughan deceased on July 7, 1951.
Vaughan’s remains were among those of American war dead returned by the Communists during “Operation Glory” in 1954. The US Army’s Central Identification Unit was unable, however, to identify many of those remains returned during Operation Glory including Vaughan’s. His remains and the others who could not be identified were interred as unknowns at the National Military Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii known as the “Punchbowl.”
Beginning in 1999, however, advances in medical technology lead the Department of Defense to begin looking into the possibility of identifying those unknown remains. On May 18, 2015, those remains were exhumed for further analysis, a process that ultimately lead to the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency to announce that Vaughan’s remains had been identified and would be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
On April 13, 2016, Vaughan’s long journey home came to an end when, in the presence of family and friends, he was laid to rest in Rosemont Cemetery by an Honor Guard from the US Army who fired a final salute for him and presented his family with American flags in honor of his sacrifice in the service of his country.
That, however, was not the last honor to be made in Vaughan’s memory.
On Monday, US Fifth District Rep. Mick Mulvaney traveled to the home of Vaughan’s daughter, Myra Heatherly, to present her with a flag that he had flown over the US Capitol Building in honor of her father. Mulvaney said that the flag was flown over the Capitol Building on April 12 in honor of Vaughan and his sacrifice and his family. He said that it reflects his view that America should take care of those who answer its call to military service and their families.
“This is one of the neat parts of this job,” Mulvaney said after presenting Heatherly with the flag. “I’ve done this about forty times and it is about getting these families the recognition the fathers and mothers deserve. We need to take care of them when they are over there, when they come back, and, if they are killed, their children and family.”
Wearing a “Proud Daughter of Korean Veteran” shirt, Heatherly showed Mulvaney her father’s medals, including the Purple Heart he received. In accepting the flag, Heatherly thanked Mulvaney and said she was honored to accept it on behalf of her family.
“It’s an honor, I take it in great pride and respect for my family,” Heatherly said. “It’s just been an honor. Dad would have been proud.”
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or firstname.lastname@example.org.