Ever since I can remember, I have loved airports and any machine that flies; so when I arrived at the Operation 300 fundraising dinner in Stuart, FL on Friday, I was doubly excited to be there.
This year the event was held in a very large hanger adjacent to the Stuart Jet Center and the first thing I saw after leaving the parking lot was a Lear Jet and a Sheriff’s Helicopter parked at the entrance and welcoming the guests.
Walking in was like a homecoming and there were many friends, acquaintances, and patriots in attendance that I’ve had the privilege of knowing for years.
This annual event takes place the evening before the “Aaron Vaughn Memorial Frogman Swim Race” which is also an annual event. Both of these events honor the life and service of SOC Aaron Vaughn who, along with thirty-seven of America’s finest and bravest Servicemen lost his life in the tragic downing of Extortion 17 on the night of August 6, 2011.
Ever since that infamous day, when many people might have just crumbled in grief, the parents of Aaron Vaughn, Karen and Billy, have been on a personal crusade to not only bring those responsible for that unimaginable loss to justice, but also and perhaps more importantly, to do everything in their power to provide for the needs of the families of the victims and create a semblance of normalcy where it can never really exist again.
For those unfamiliar with the story of Extortion 17, there is a ton of information available including books, articles, at least one movie in the works, and a lot more; however I will sum it up this way. From the very outset of that fateful mission; starting with the use of improper equipment, the denial of suppressive fire from the air, the presence of highly questionable Afghanis on the flight, and a lot more, our men were betrayed by people at the highest levels of our government right up to the Oval Office, and the cover up continues to this day. I might add, one of those who shares in the responsibility is a candidate for POTUS.
The event itself was, as always, an unqualified success. From the delicious hors d’oeuvres to the over the top buffet, and the Birthday Cake for Aaron; everything was amazing.
As I said above, Karen and Billy and their family, along with hundreds of friends and volunteers work tirelessly throughout the year to honor their son and all of those lost souls from Extortion 17 by caring for the families. They do a lot of fun stuff for the kids; camps, trips, shooting sports, etc., but they are also there for the families when medical and other unexpected needs arise. In short, the Vaughn’s, drawing heavily upon their strong faith, have brought all of the families together and created a tight knit extended family that care for each other.
All of that stuff costs a lot of money and requires a steady cash flow; therefore Operation 300 hosts a number of other fundraising events around the country which allows them to operate and do their important work.
Some of the high ticket items in the auction on Friday included a full day ride along with a Martin County Sheriff on patrol, at the range, and a flight in a county Sheriff’s helicopter; dinner of your choosing at a fire house; a specially made knife which is produced every year for this event; and an amazing rifle also produced solely for the event with the corresponding serial number OP 300 004. There were also a number of donated gift certificates and special packaged items from local vendors.
If you were unable to attend and you would like to help this most worthy effort, please visit the Operation 300 website to learn more about this wonderful group and make a tax deductible donation.
We at The Patriots Press are honored and grateful for the privilege of attending and being even a small part of this annual event, and we pray that God continues to grant these amazing families the courage and ability to carry on.