Melvin LeRoy Vaughn FREDERICKSBURG - Melvin LeRoy Vaughn, 90, died Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011, at Carriage Hill Health and Rehab Center in Fredericksburg. He is survived by his wife, Virginia, for whom he cared lovingly for 64 years. He also leaves behind sons, Gary and wife Doreen and Randy and wife Dawna; as well as grandchildren, Jeremy and wife Adrienne, Katie, Ethan, and Elizabeth Vaughn, all of Fredericksburg. Mr. Vaughn was born Oct. 23, 1920, in Columbus, Ohio, to Roy and Anna Vaughn. In his late teens he enlisted in the U.S. Navy. He retired as a chief petty officer after 21 years. He was a Pearl Harbor survivor, serving on the battleship USS Oklahoma, and spent the remainder of World War II in the Pacific Theater. He also served in the Korean War. During the following years he was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Base in Illinois and later in California, Alaska and Virginia. He retired from the Navy in Norfolk in 1962 and worked a civil service job at the Naval Operations Base for 20 more years. He was an active member of McKendree United Methodist Church in Norfolk until his recent move to Fredericksburg. He was a member of the Pearl Harbor Survivor Association, USS Hull Association, USS Oklahoma Association, and the NRA. He had a range of lifelong interests, including camping and RV travel, helping with his sons' Boy Scout activities, leatherwork, metalwork, reloading and target shooting, fishing and hunting. He was a dog lover and an avid fan of Western movies and U.S. history. He had great respect for the outdoors and nature's creatures. Mr. Vaughn's greatest talent was making things with his hands, whether it was a household gadget or a part to make something function better. Those who knew him well heard him say many times, "Why don't you make one?" He loved hard physical work and was always willing to help others, no matter how big the job. Most of all, he loved being with his family and was proud of his school teacher sons. As a man who did not take advantage of opportunities to get a formal education himself, he made sure that his sons did. A service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Presbyterian Church of Fredericksburg with the Rev. Allen H. Fisher Jr. officiating. Family visitation will take place one hour before the service in the church parlor. A reception will follow the service in the parlor. Interment will be at 11 a.m. Oct. 20 at Arlington National Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Mr. Vaughn's memory to McKendree United Methodist Church, 6870 N. Military Hwy., Norfolk, VA 23518. Online guest book is available at covenantfuneralservice.com.
I met Gary Vaughn in Sunday School around 1960 and he and I became and remain best friends. I spent many, many hours with the Vaughn family through high school and continued to visit with Mr. and Mrs. Vaughn while they remained healthy and receiving visitors. Like so many of the Greatest Generation, their last few years were not easy for either of them. I was speaking with a friend yesterday about Mr. Vaughn’s Pearl experience on the Oklahoma and mentioned that a ship to which he was later assigned had gone down. I had to go to his obituary to remind myself of the name of the ship. I got confused, however, when I did not see his name on the list of survivors. So I called Gary last night and was reminded that he was assigned to the Hull but had been sent back Stateside for training (welding school, Gary thought) when she sank.
All of this started because I have on my desk a shell casing from the salute provided him at his funeral at Arlington.