He ascended to the rank of colonel in the U.S. Army and served two tours of duty in Vietnam
Now local resident and popular Southern Standard columnist Thomas B. Vaughn has served as co-editor of a critically acclaimed book called “The Boys of Benning.”
The book, released earlier this year, is a compilation of stories from class of 1962 graduates of Infantry Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Ga. It was during a reunion in March 2012 the idea began to write a book.
“My classmates are masters at the art of delegation so they asked me to do it,” said Vaughn. “It’s not a bunch of war stories. It’s mostly about our lives before, during and after military service. They are uplifting stories about how people can rise above their circumstances. Just because you’re poor, you don’t have to stay poor.”
As an example of this, Vaughn points to the powerful story of Rudy Baker, who was born the son of a sharecropper in eastern North Carolina. Baker, who has no middle name, jokes in his story that his family was too poor to afford one. Yet Baker overcame poverty to become an Army colonel, then enjoyed a successful banking career after his military service.
Vaughn has a 17-page chapter in the book and is another example of rising above his circumstances. He was raised by a single mother in McMinnville long before single moms were a common part of American culture. His mom worked two jobs to make financial ends meet.
“People have told me I’m a self-made man, but I don’t believe there are self-made men because everyone has mentors,” said Vaughn. “I had several mentors including Jonah Fitch, John Cox, J.S. Carr and my mother. My coaches served as father figures for me.”
Vaughn, who is nothing if not humble, concedes other stories in the book are much better than his. The book features 15 stories and has 269 pages.
“It’s a great book and everyone should read it,” said Vaughn, 75, who retired from military service in 1988.
Books can be purchased directly from Vaughn by calling 668-8225. Hardbacks are $25 and paperbacks are $15. Books are also available at the Chamber of Commerce and Monty Wanamaker’s shop on Main Street. They can also be purchased at Amazon.com.