Pictured above are former Stuart, Florida resident and fallen Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn (right), his wife, Kimberly (left) with Aaron’s mother and father, Billy and Karen, and Aaron and Kimberly’s firstborn child, Reagan. Kimberly and Aaron’s second child Lyla is not pictured. Lyla was just two weeks old when her father deployed to Afghanistan, for the last time.
Navy Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Aaron Carson Vaughn was killed on August 6, 2011 in the Tangi River Valley, Wardak province in Afghanistan, where his US Chinook helicopter, call sign Extortion 17, was shot down in a Taliban ambush, killing thirty Americans and seven Afghan National Army personnel and one interpreter. Fifteen of those killed were some of “America’s finest and most dedicated warriors from SEAL Team Six, the same unit that killed Usama Bin Laden.” So begins the story of Karen and Billy Vaughn’s quest to find out what really happened on that fateful night seven thousand miles away from their home in Stuart, Florida. Their and Aaron’s story is deftly portrayed in the book “Betrayed: The Shocking Story of Extortion 17 as told by a Navy SEAL’s Father“.
This book not only tells the story of what happened on an ill conceived, improperly equipped and poorly executed mission but also the personal story of a true American warrior.
The Mission or a Lack Thereof
The national war fighting policy leading up to the Extortion 17 tragedy was best described in the book by Ben Smith, former Navy SEAL, thusly, “Political correctness, the counterinsurgency strategy and our Rules of Engagement have neutered our warfighter in life or death situations that WE/our government have sent them to do.” Who has “neutered” our warfighters?
“Betrayed” paints a clear picture of over stressing US Special Operation Forces in the Afghanistan theatre of operations. Rather than using US Special Operators for what they are trained to do, surgical/nighttime covert operations, they have been “watered down” and used more and more since 2009 as a conventional force in a growing number of operations. According to ICasualties.org in Afghanistan between 2001 and December 2008 there were 630 Americans killed and 2,638 wounded. From 2009 to December 2012 there were 1,544 US deaths and 15,036 US wounded in Afghanistan. To date the death toll has risen to an alarming 2,292. Billy Vaughn states, “Numbers don’t lie. This is the true cost of ‘winning hearts and minds’.”
Lieutenant General Jerry Boykin, US Army (Ret.) in the introduction notes, “As the sun rose over the beaches of Normandy on the morning of June 6, 1944, thousands of young Americans waded through the surf and raced toward the German defenses, intent on bringing WWII to an end and destroying the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler … For the United States, a new warfare paradigm exists that would make the success of the D-Day efforts doubtful if executed today. In fact, warfare has always been an extension of politics, but after WWII, politics began to impede American war fighting to the extent that victory is fleeting at best and unlikely at worst.”
General Boykin warns that the current counterinsurgency strategy of “winning the hearts and minds” of the Afghans, ” [I]s a poor substitute for victory over a determined foe. If America does not intend to win, then US Forces should never engage an adversary.”
Billy Vaughn states, “It is quite possible my son [Aaron] and the twenty-nine other American warriors aboard Extortion 17 lost their lives because their leaders decided political posturing and ill-gotten gain was more important than bringing them home … I’ve discovered the downing of Extortion 17 was not what it appeared to be. It was a reckless loss of life … Our government would rather coddle the enemy in blatant appeasement that use our total force capability to neutralize them.”
The human story of Aaron Carson Vaughn
Betrayed tells the human side of one of America’s warfighters – Aaron C. Vaughn. Billy Vaughn writes, “And just to be clear, Karen and I know that our boy would have jumped onboard a hang glider that night, if that’s all that had been available. This has always been my point: When our nation is entrusted with this kind of courage – men who will sacrifice their safety and even their lives to defeat the enemy, utilizing whatever is available – it is imperative that our nation’s leaders make sure they have the best that money can buy. Anything less should be considered criminal.”
In the Epilogue Billy Vaughn writes, “I recently came across an Oswald Chambers quote, ‘When you fear God, you fear nothing else.’ This was Aaron. There is no way you could have kept my son off the chopper that night … one more opportunity to go after the enemy. I strongly suspect the rest of his teammates were the same kind of men. I can also reasonably assume the decision for all of the men on board one chopper was made by the SEALs themselves. Based upon the information I have collected to date, I understand that decision. The SEALs did not fail that night. They proved their great valor and are heroes all.”
“As I’ve detailed in this book, there was a catastrophic failure. But it didn’t begin on August 5, 2011 and it had nothing to do with the men of Extortion 17. The failure rests squarely on the shoulder of government officials and military politicians. The elusive, terrifying ‘Green Eyed Ghosts’ [Navy SEALs] are being stripped of their mystique by those who command them. It made me sick to recently hear a retired member of SEAL Team VI tell me, ‘Mr. Vaughn, our leaders are watering us down.’ God help our republic,” laments Billy Vaughn.
The Florida family of a fallen Navy SEAL has been “Betrayed”.
EDITORS NOTE: To learn more about Aaron C. Vaughn please click here.