NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Elite Navy SEALs member Aaron Carson Vaughn had asked the military to return him to combat and shipped out just six weeks before he was killed when a U.S. military helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan, killing 38, including 22 SEALs.
Vaughn’s grandmother, Geneva Vaughn of Union City, Tenn., told The Associated Press on Saturday that her grandson, a Tennessee native, had wanted to be a SEAL since he was a child and returned to combat just two weeks after his 2-month-old daughter was born this summer.
Geneva Vaughn says he was already a decorated fighter when he was asked by the Navy to return stateside to become an instructor. He chafed under the assignment and applied to SEAL Team 6. Military authorities notified the family of his death.
Editor’s note: The most powerful part of this interview begins at the 1:44 mark in the video. The partial transcript below doesn’t fully capture the poignancy of the live television moment:
“As a brave warrior, Aaron was brave. But yet, he was a gentle man,” Geneva Carson Vaughn told CNN.
“He loved his family. He loved his country and he was willing to give his life to protect his family and protect his country. He was a great American.”
Her grandson, who turned 30 in June, was stationed in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and had been in the service for about eight years, she said.
She recalled one of the last conversations she had with him.
“I told him to be careful and he said, ‘Granny, don’t worry about me.’ He said ‘I’m not afraid because I know where I’m going if something happens to me.’ Aaron was a Christian and he stood firm in his faith,” she said, her voice heavy with emotion.
“He’s with the Lord now, and I’ll see him again some day.”