While everyone else fought their way home from work through one of Hampton Roads’ infamous torrential rainstorms, a bunch of dedicated football players scored touchdowns in memory of fallen US Navy SEAL Aaron Vaughn.
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn
‘Tank Tops and Tattoos’, the inaugural Aaron Vaughn Memorial Folded Flag Football games, took place at the Virginia Beach Sportsplex on Friday, July 20th, with players and spectators flying in from all over the country to show their support.
A little thunder and lightningdidn’t stop the ladies, as the event kicked off with ‘Tank Tops’, the women’spowderpuff game.While they’re usually found on the sidelineshere at their home stadium, the Virginia Destroyers cheerleaders dropped their pompoms and showed they’re a force to be reckoned with on the field too. Kimberly Vaughn, wife of Aaron Vaughn and organizer of the event, also played in the game.
Kimberly Vaughn, wife of Aaron Vaughn, and Tonya Helman Haines, both Redskins cheerleaders alumni
Other players included alumni of the Washington Redskins cheerleaders and members of Sweethearts for Soldiers, a non-profit group of former NFL and NBA cheerleaders dedicated to boosting the morale of US troops. Never to miss a sporting event, members of the Backyard Sports Club, Hampton Roads’ own adult sports league, also joined in the fun as players and referees for the games.
The event was sponsored by several veteran-owned businesses, such as Lock-n-Load Java, Mission First Tactical, and Dark Angel Medical. Jason Juranis of Mission First Tactical, who also played in the men’s ‘Tattoos’ game, described the event as “a great morale boost” and “a great success in spite of the weather”, with the players jokingly referring to thelightening as “fan photo flashes”.
Members of Mission First Tactical, ready to play (pictured: Jason Juranis (right) and teammate David)
“Conversations after the game centered around how long it’s been since we’ve played ball and how it brought back so many fond memories,” he said. “We are dedicated to the mission and that means being dedicated to the families of those who made the ultimate sacrifice. We will continue to support however possible now and forever, and MFT looks forward to participating next year.”
Representatives from Honor and Remember presented a flag to Kimberly, and photographs were displayed on the big screen to commemorate the lives of US Navy SEALs who never made it home from the wars dating back to 1972, including a USNA classmate of Kimberly’s father, Lt. M. Spence Dry.
Each player walked away with prizes and gift cards, packaged in military style backpacks donated by local sponsor London Bridge Trading Company. All proceeds from the games are to besplit between the Navy SEAL Foundation and the Children of Aaron Vaughn Memorial, with plans for a different Navy SEAL charity and family in need to be selected next year, in what hopes to be an annual event.
Some of the ladies after playing the powderpuff game in the rain
‘Tattoos’, the men’s game
“I’d love for the Folded Flag Football games to be held every year so that my children can grow up being a part of it; not only to participate in an event to remember and honor their father, but to also understand the importance of giving back to organizations that support families like our own,” said Kimberly.
“Inspired by Aaron’s love for football, these games are a wonderful chance to gain public support for families of fallen Navy SEALs.Surviving the folded flag is something families across the country now encounter all too often. Incorporating something symbolic in the title of the games reminds people of the unfathomable sacrifices of those who serve.”
Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer (SEAL) Aaron C. Vaughn, 30, was killed in action on August 6, 2011, when the Chinook helicopter in which he was riding was shot down in Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife Kimberly, and their two children, Reagan, 2 years old, and Chamberlyn, 1 year old.
Presentation of the Honor and Remember flag to Kimberly Vaughn and children
Click here to see more photos from the event.