Lawrence Eugene (Larry) Vaughn Jr., was a Hannibal, Missouri native who grew up in the shadows of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. The mighty Mississippi river and three railroads dominated the downtown area. He witnessed seemingly annual downtown flooding. Attending Hannibal schools through his junior year at Hannibal High School, he completed his senior year at Louisiana (MO) High School, 30 miles downriver.
He was a Life member of the Indiana Transportation Museum, having first joined as a volunteer locomotive engineer in 1985. For many years he supported the Museum with annual financial contributions, manual labor, and assistance with marketing and promotional efforts.
By profession, he was a Writer, Media Producer, and IT Project Manager often selected to work with large companies and corporations to help them develop employee training, marketing strategies and business practices to achieve their goals. He received many awards and honors including being elected a member of the International Executive Guild, and has been listed in Who’s Who of the Midwest.
He received the George Washington Honor Metal from the American Freedom Foundation in 1976, served as District Chairman for Lions International, was a two-term mayor of Holts Summit, Missouri, and served as a key strategist on the staffs of two Commanding Generals. He was awarded several service decorations, including two Distinguished Service Awards.
In 1997, he was awarded knighthood in the U.S. Order of St. George, a fraternal corporation that recognizes Americans who have given selflessly over many years to serve and improve our society. He subsequently was elevated to Grand Knight, and eventually, was elected to the office of Secretary of the organization.
U.S. Air Force
Larry enlisted in the U.S. Air Force during 1962 Senior Career Days at Louisiana (MO) high school, in the midst of the Cold War, and the growing fear of impending nuclear attack. President John Kennedy had initiated the Strategic Air Command and brought big structural change to the Air Force. Larry felt the Air Force mission best suited his desire to become a pilot.
When enlistment didn’t work out, Larry was invited by his uncle, Bill Vaughn, to attend the Carolina School of Broadcasting in Charlotte, North Carolina, and entered the radio and television industry. During the training, he discovered an interest in writing and producing radio and television commercials. He later completed other studies at the University of Illinois-Urbana and Northwestern University.
Civil Air Patrol (U.S. Air Force Auxiliary)
Larry served 13 years as a commissioned officer in the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Air Force Auxiliary, as a Search and Rescue Pilot, with an initial grade of 2nd Lieutenant. Improving his skills through participation in search and rescue missions across Missouri, he earned promotions to Lieutenant and then Captain as a Search And Rescue (SAR) Pilot. He achieved ratings in several SAR aircraft, including the PA-128 Piper Cub, Piper Cherokee B, Cessna 150, Cessna 172, and earned classification as Senior Pilot.
In 1977, he was selected to attend C.A.P. War College at Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Nebraska, where he earned certification as an Civil Air Patrol Mission Coordinator. Tasks of a mission coordinator include disaster planning, coordinated response and efficient recovery through cooperation with other state departments and agencies, local governments, the federal government and volunteer and faith-based organizations. He participated in numerous statewide Disaster Management exercises, operating from the underground Emergency Operations Center in Jefferson City, Missouri.
In 1975 Larry was selected for a one-year high security assignment as courier for the NASA Moon Rock display. After obtaining USAF Security Clearance he attended training, along with couriers representing other states, at the Manned Space Flight Center (now Johnson Space Flight Center) outside Houston, Texas.
During our orientation we saw the the Saturn V rocket, the type used to go to the moon, visited Mission Control, the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, where the first astronauts returning from the Moon were quarantined, and where the majority of lunar samples are stored, and we saw films and heard lectures on how the rock samples were collected.
The samples we were going to transport were collected by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin after landing their lunar module, Eagle, July 20, 1969, on the Sea of Tranquility. Apollo 11 then carried the first geologic samples from the Moon back to Earth, including 50 “Moon rocks.”
The rocks were mounted in a three sided clear polycarbonate hardened case designed to fit into a lighted receptacle in a 8′ wide by 5′ tall Apollo 11 stage display. The display unit explained the mission in graphics and text, with the Moon rock positioned in the center.
The courier’s assignment was to receive the Moon rock in Houston, transport it to the location of the next display, secure it in a bank vault or a law enforcement agency’s safe overnight, transport it to the location of the display and guard it during the event, and, if feasible, lock it up overnight and transport it to Houston the next day.
When first received by the courier at Manned Flight Center, the Moon rock was in a locked hard sided case with handle that obscured the object inside. On the first mission the courier was handcuffed to the case and transported to the airport where federal marshals secured the sample in the first class seat next to the courier.
It was quickly determined by NASA that their initial procedures were very confining, time consuming, and probably expensive, and loosened up after a few mission were successfully concluded without incident.
Through his mission coordination experience, he identified opportunities for improvement in emergency services, and contributed to updating the organization’s mission description at C.A.P. headquarters, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. He was appointed by the Missouri Wing Commander to serve as a registered lobbyist for Civil Air Patrol in 1976. Additionally, he formed specialized search and rescue squadrons in several Missouri locations.
In 1978 Larry was recruited by General Nicholas Knutz, past commander of U.S. C.A.P. to assume the Military Operations (G-3) role for the newly forming Missouri Reserve Military Corps, which would have a specialized support mission during emergency and disaster operations. He was increased in grade to Lieutenant Colonel.
In later years his private career took him to Indianapolis, Indiana, where he transferred to the Indiana Army Guard Reserve with the grade of Major, there being no Lieutenant Colonel vacancy for his time in grade, and was assigned to Deputy Director of Planning, Operations and Training (G-3).
He was very soon thereafter recruited by Brigadier General James Grissom to assume the role of Director of Operations A-3 [Air Force equivalent to Army’s G-3] for the newly forming Air Wing of the Indiana Guard Reserve with the grade of Lieutenant Colonel. He assembled and published training and operations manuals for the organization, based in large part on his experience with Civil Air Patrol Disaster Preparedness. The organizational mission was closely aligned with the United States Air Force Reserve Regulation 45-1 published in March of 1975.
He is credited with coordinating the first joint operations exercise with Missouri and Indiana Guard Reserve units in support of active duty reserve units in Mission Readiness Operations, hosted at Camp Atterbury Army Base in Edinburgh, Indiana, in August, 1990.
He retired from active service with the Indiana Guard Reserve in 1996 with the grade of Colonel (G-3), to pursue business in the Asher Walton House Bed and Breakfast he and Lea established in Atlanta, Indiana.
Larry was awarded a lifetime appointment to the Indiana Honorary Regiment of Militia by the Adjutant General in recognition of his many contributions to the State of Indiana over his years of service.