Akron native and mother of fallen Navy Seal prepared to take national stage at RNC Monday night

Posted at 3:48 PM, Jul 18, 2016

An Akron native and mother of a fallen Navy SEAL will take center stage in prime time during the Republican National Convention Monday night.

Karen Vaughn is scheduled to speak at 9:44 p.m. for three minutes.

"To actually have a voice in a national platform for these elections is kind of surreal," Vaughn said.

On August 6, 2011, Aaron Carson Vaughn, was killed along with 29 other US military members after their chopper was shot down in the Tangi River Valley of Afghanistan. Twenty two of the victims were Navy SEALs.

"It was the single largest one day loss of life in the history of Naval special warfare," Vaughn explained.

Aaron was only 30-years-old when he was killed and left behind a wife and two small children-- a boy who was under two at the time and a baby girl.

Mrs. Vaughn, 54, said Aaron always wanted to be a SEAL, but knee injuries in high school prevented him from pursuing his dream.

However, after September 11, 2011, something snapped and Aaron's calling was renewed.

"On his 21st birthday, he came home and told us that he had joined the SEAL challenge program."

Vaughn said her speech will focus on "making America strong again" while also criticizing what she calls the "rules of engagement" that put military members at risk.

In her son's case, Vaughn said the air weapons team had asked to take out heavily armed men on the ground eight times and we're denied because of rules of engagement.

"The rules basically said you die before you take any risk of taking an innocent person's life," she said. "If you see a Taliban member with an RPG (rocket-propelled grenade) aimed at your unit, you can't shoot until he fires first."

Vaughn said the convention is also meaningful because she was born in Akron. She moved to Tennessee when she was five after Goodyear transferred her father to a new job.

"I have a lot of family members from Akron," she said. "I just feel a great sense of honor that I get to do this. That's what I feel."

Vaughn recognizes that Donald Trump is a polarizing figure, but supports him "1,000 percent" because she feels he will make the military stronger and boost the economy.

"I believe that we need a leader whose word means something to other nations right now. When America is weak, the world is chaos," she said.

Vaughn and her husband, Billy, started Operation 300, a registered 501(c)3 not for profit organization, which hosts adventure camps for children who have lost their fathers as a result of military service and seeks to honor the families of the fallen.