By Sonya Stevenssstevens@abcnews4.com
MCCLELLANVILLE, SC ( WCIV) -- A retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General that passed away Friday afternoon has ties to the Lowcountry. Lt. Gen. James B. Vaught is a direct descendent of Francis Marion and attended the Citadel in the 1940s.
His body was found in an Horry County pond. The autopsy shows he died of asphyxia due to drowning but also showed signs of cardiac disease.
Friendly, caring, and patriotic: this is how some of Vaught's fellow soldiers described him.
Robert Baldwin served in the Army with the three star general. Vaught was his Battalion Commander in Vietnam.
"He was down on the ground with us," said Baldwin. "If we were getting shot at, he was getting shot at. He carried his own weapon, dug his own holes, he heated his own C-rations. Whatever we were doing he did right along with us."
Vaught was dedicated to his country; he served 38 years in the Army.
"He was very service oriented not just from the military but in every aspect of his life. He was dedicated in service to the community, to the country," said Baldwin.
Charlie Baker also served with the lieutenant general in Vietnam and said that he earned the respect of many soldiers because of his leadership style.
"His concern was with the soldiers under him as opposed to the people up the chain on command," said Baker. "He cared for his men and his whole method of operation was to accomplish each mission with the least number of casualties possible."
But to Baker, Vaught was more than a fellow veteran.
"He is kind of my mentor almost a surrogate parent so you know we reacted like you would in that case," said Baker. "We were really sad of course. He is very special to me."
And the legacy of this veteran will be remembered by many who call him a Great American.
"He touched thousand and thousands of soldiers in his life," said Baker.
Visitation for Lt. Gen. Vaught will be this Saturday from noon to 1:30 p.m. at Tilly Swamp Baptist Church in Conway. The church service and burial will be at 2 p.m. at the church cemetery.