DAVID R. VAUGHN, CDR, USN
David Vaughn '72
Date of birth: June 5, 1950
Date of death: December 5, 1986
From the 1972 Lucky Bag:
From Aviation Safety:
A-6E Intruder BuNo. 160994/'NJ-809' of VA-128, NAS Whidbey Island, Washington: Destroyed when crashed December 15 1986, 10 miles south of the Boardman Navy Range, which is 5.5 miles South West of Boardman, Morrow County, Oregon. Both crew - Lt Commander Dave Vaughn (Pilot) and Lt (JG) Gary Abe (Bombardier/Navigator) - were killed. According to the following contemporary press report:
Navy bomber crashes on training mission
Dec. 5, 1986
BOARDMAN, Ore. -- Two fliers from Washington's Whidbey Island Naval Air Station were killed Friday in a crash of their low-level attack bomber during a training mission over the eastern Oregon desert.
Navy officials identified the dead as Lt. Cmdr. Dave Vaughn, a pilot instructor, and Lt. Gary Abe, a student bombardier-navigator. Their ages and hometowns were not released. The plane and crew were based at the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station near Oak Harbor, Wash.
The two-seat A-6E attack bomber crashed about 10 miles south of Oregon's Boardman Bombing Range after leaving Whidbey on the routine training mission, Navy spokeswoman Mary Ann Heiserman said. Spokeswoman Mary Ann Graham said a team of Navy investigators flew to the crash site from Whidbey Island. She said details of how the crash occurred were not known.
The training bombing range is spread over 47,000 acres of sagebrush and desert in northeast Oregon near the Columbia River. Bomber crews routinely streak southeast from Washington state on mock bombing runs and drop 'inert' dummy bombs on the range at Boardman for practice, Graham said. The plane and crew were part of 128th Attack Squadron, a training group for pilots and navigators.
Graham said the squadron last had an accident in September 1973. The last crash of an A-6E from Whidbey was in July 1984, she said.
From the April 1987 issue of Shipmate:
Cdr. David Vaughn USN was killed during a training flight at Boardman Bombing Range, Oregon on 5 December 1986. A memorial service was held at the Naval Air Station Chapel at Whidbey Island, Wash., on 10 December 1986, and was followed by volley honors, taps, the presentation of the national ensign to his widow, and the missing man formation fly-by. Cdr. Vaughn's ashes were scattered over Mt. Baker in the state of Washington.
Cdr. Vaughn was born in Beckley, West Virginia on 5 June 1950. He entered the Naval Academy from the State of Ohio; he spent all four of his Academy years in the 11th Company. Upon graduation in June 1972, he was granted a BS in Aerospace Engineering and served in USS WAINWRIGHT (DLG-28) before reporting to Naval Aviation Schools Command at N A S Pensacola the following February.
Receiving his wings in February 1975, he remained in Kingsville, Texas, as a flight instructor until December 1976. He then proceeded to VA-128 at Whidbey Island and qualified in the A-6 Intruder. Cdr. Vaughn then reported to the Knightriders of VA-52, completing two deployments aboard USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63). In April 1980, he reported to Naval Programs, Grumman Aerospace Corporation in Bethpage, New York, where he served as a test and acceptance pilot for A-6 and EA-6B aircraft. In August 1983, he reported to the boomers of VA-165 and completed deployments aboard USS RANGER (CV-61) and USS KITTY HAWK (CV-63). In February 1986, he reported to the Golden Intruders of VA-128, where he headed A-6 maintenance training as Framp Officer.
Commander Vaughn is survived by his wife of fifteen years, Linda, and their four children, Jennifer (12), James (10), Jessica (6), and Jared (5), of Oak Harbor, Wash.
He has a marker in Ohio.
From his classmate and company-mate Lanny Benham on June 2, 2021:
Dave was a class act. He had strong faith in God and loved his country. He had wanted to be a pilot since he was young, so the Naval Academy provided him a pathway to becoming a top notch Naval Aviator. He was a natural leader with a welcoming personality and genuine warmth of character. He was true to his word and the best friend anyone could have. Dave was an adventurous type. He rode a motorcycle, loved scuba diving, cracking a bull whip and practicing quick draw with a pistol and holster. Although he was a model naval officer, his greatest achievement was as a husband to Linda Hunsley Vaughn (now Linda Benham) and a father to Jennifer, James, Jessica and Jared. He was a solid role model and grounded his kids by spending special time with each of them and doing things and seeing places as a family. Lanny Benham, CAPT USN (Ret) '72
Memorial Hall Error
David was posthumously promoted to Commander, retroactive to his date of death, as he had been selected to this rank prior to his loss. He is listed in Memorial Hall as a Lieutenant Commander.