Gold Star mom shares story of ultimate sacrifice with cadets on Veterans Day


Karen Vaughn’s son was killed in Afghanistan five years ago, and Friday she brought the story of his sacrifice to young cadets at The Citadel who may have to put their own lives on the line.

“I say all the time to my son, I miss you with every breath,” she said.

Gold Star mother Karen Vaughn’s son Aaron was more than an elite Navy Seal. He was a husband, a father and a Christian. He was a man who loved his country.

“Aaron had almost zero expectation. Should he lay down his life for his country, he thought it would be the greatest honor on Earth,” Karen said.

Aaron was killed in Afghanistan in 2011. His chopper was shot down with 30 Americans on board. Since then, she has channeled her pain to fight.

“I have dedicated my life to make Americans aware of what our fighters are dealing with on foreign soil,” she said.

On Veterans Day, Karen took her message to The Citadel.

“It affects me very personally,” junior cadet Grant Miller. “I had family that has served. Myself, I am going into the Army upon graduation. Having visuals of parents and their child being but in harm’s way was striking and moving.”

While Aaron’s sacrifice inspired cadets, Karen doesn’t want another message to get lost. Among those messages – the plight of veterans who make it home to hard times, physical and mental problems.

“We need to do better at recognizing veterans around the country and all service branches,” said senior cadet Cody Ford. “I feel they made such an impact, and we need to give back to that and show our thanks.”

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