Aaron's life is a story from which movies are made. If Aaron Vaughn were alive 2,500 years ago, he would have been one of the 300 Spartans with who took on Xerxes at the Thermopylae. Aaron had the Greek words Molon labe "Come and take it" tattooed on his left arm in big bold letters so it would be the last thing a terrorist saw before he slit his throat.
When Aaron was eight years old, he began telling anyone who would listen, "One day I'm going to be a Navy SEAL." This was his dream and passion. When Aaron was in 9th grade, he earned a spot on the varsity football team. By his senior year, he had grown into a massive six foot four inch one man wrecking crew - but football was secondary to him. After high school, he was going to immediately walk down to the recruitment station and join the Navy to become a SEAL and fulfill his dream. However, that dream would soon be shattered during football practice when Aaron blew out his left ACL snapping the major knee ligament into two separate pieces. This type of injury is a career ending injury for most football players let alone someone wanting to become a SEAL. After the surgery, Aaron worked hard through the agonizing rehabilitation for months to recover and all was going on schedule until the unthinkable happened. He blew out his left ACL once again. Not just blew it out this time - obliterated it. The doctors told him they couldn’t fix it - there was nothing left to fix. The surgeon said his ACL was completely gone and destroyed. There was simply nothing left to repair. He was also told that he probably would be walking with a cane for the rest of his life.
Aaron was devastated. His dreams of becoming a SEAL were over. Accepting the reality of the situation, Aaron made his goal something obtainable - to walk normal again. Aaron willed his mind and body into his physical therapy to not only walk again but to win a full scholarship to play golf - a truly amazing accomplishment for a man with no ACL. Then the unimaginable happened, Sept 11th 2001, and hearing the words “Let’s Roll” from Todd Beamer from flight 93 forever changed Aaron life. Aaron decided that becoming a SEAL was his calling. Once again he returned to the gym and began intense rehabilitation. Nine months later, Aaron amazingly walked into the recruitment center and joined the Navy to become a SEAL. In the months and years that followed, Aaron passed every SEAL evolution “First Time Every Time” an honor few achieve, fought as a Navy SEAL in combat for over a year, and became an honored member of Gold Squad DEVGRU - SEAL Team Six. All this was accomplished - on one good leg. Aaron was killed on August 6th, 2011 and is buried in Arlington Cemetery.
“He was selfless,” explained his brother Chris Hamburger. “He didn’t worry about himself half as much as he worried about everyone else. You could have been a complete stranger and if he could have helped you, he would’ve done it. Patrick was a hero even before he put on his uniform and saluted the flag.” Patrick Hamburger intended to be married when he returned from overseas. Expressing her deep loss, Patrick's fiancée said, “Oh how I miss you so much! I love looking at pictures of you and your smile and think of our life we had and how happy we were. I think how I will never be that happy again in my life. No one will ever make me as happy as you! Nor do I even ever want to try to find someone to even make me happy like that! All I want is to have you back in my life. I want my life back to normal and that means having you in it! I know I will never get that again. Till the day I pass and I can be in your arms again. I love you so much! Miss you like crazy! I love love love you! always and forever! “
Dave was a passionate outdoors-man who loved to hunt and fish. He was a dedicated dad who truly enjoyed the company of his children and instilled in them a passion for the outdoors. One of his greatest pleasures was going on hunting trips with his children and friends. In his private moments of reflection, Dave read the Bible and had a truly deep and abiding relationship with God. His membership at the Eastern Hills Community Church was important in his life and he was proud to serve on the "Sheep Dogs" Security Team there.
Alex was notorious for making people laugh - either with pranks, his infectious grin, or his wit. One fellow soldier recalls an incident how Alex kept the crew calm with his humor as they lost hydraulic fluid over a large lake. Alex was well-loved by all who had the pleasure of meeting him. He was a typical young kid and liked to go out and have a good time with the guys.
Flight Engineer 158th Aviation Regiment, Sgt. Alexander J. Bennett, 24, of Tacoma, WA
While other of his age were busy in bars shooting pool, Spencer was living his dream piloting aircraft, fighting for his country, and making a difference in this world. Weeks before August 6, 2011, his father was telling Spencer goodbye, and Spencer said, “I know, Dad. Make it count” and he did. The "Make it Count" foundation is about recognizing we have gifts and abilities that are to be used to benefit others. Making it count is about doing our best, even when it is so much easier to shoot for mediocrity. Making it count is about seeing more than just ourselves and understanding the part we play in helping others see more than just themselves.
Co-Pilot 135th Aviation Regiment, CW4 David R. Carter, 46, Centennial, CO
Pilot 158th Aviation Regiment, Army Specialist Spencer C. Duncan, Age 21, Olathe, KS
Crew Chief 135th Aviation Regiment, Staff Sgt. Patrick D. Hamburger, Age 30, of Lincoln, NE
SWO (DEVGRU) PO1 Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, Stuart, FL