Friday, 01 July 2016 08:33

Vaughn, Warren Earl, 2ndLt

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                                               Vaughn, Warren Earl, 2ndLt

 Warren Earl Vaughn Birth: Sep. 20, 1922 Childress, Texas, USA Death: Mar. 15, 1945, Japan US Marine Aviator.  He was killed by the Japanese after being captured on Chichi Jima Island (in the Bonin Islands group). 

 His story was described in the book, Flyboys (2003), by author James Bradley.  A born daredevil, Warren Earl liked to live life on the edge and his decision to become a fighter pilot came naturally to his personality.  Part Cherokee Indian (from his mother's side), he had high cheekbones and the dark Indian skin that made him instantly attractive to girls. 

 He was tall, dark, and handsome.  Graduating from Childress High School in June 1941, he entered Southwest Texas State University, taking a part time job of repairing airplane parts at the nearby Corpus Christi Naval Air Station.  On September 1, 1943, he decided that he had sat out the war enough, and enlisted into the Marine Corps to become a fighter pilot.

He was trained to fly the F4U-1A, Corsair, with emphasis on fighter-bomber missions (close air support to ground troops and glide bombing fixed targets) at the Marine Air Station in Mohave, California.  His training completed, Vaughn was assigned in February 1945 to the aircraft carrier USS Bennington as a replacement pilot andhis strike against Chichi Jima on February 23, 1945, would be his first and only combat flight.

While attacking the radio station on Chichi Jima, his Corsair was hit by antiaircraft fire and one wing of his Corsair was clipped off.  He was observed parachuting out of his plane to the island, where he was quickly captured by Japanese soldiers. 

Originally Vaughn was escorted to General Tachibana's headquarters, where the General ordered him taken to Major Matoba's 308th Infantry Battalion to be executed.  He was tied to a tree next to two other captured airmen, Navy ARM3C Jimmy Dye and AO3C Grady York, who were also to be executed.  They remained tied to the trees, unfed and left alone for three days. 

 On Monday, February 26, 1945, Vaughn was sent to Major Horie for further interrogation, while the other two men were executed.  On March 17, 1945, Vaughn was turned over for execution to the Torpedo Boat Squadron, as part of their Spirit Warrior indoctrination. 

Under the orders of Japanese Navy Captain Shizuo Yoshii, Ensign Takao Koyama beheaded Vaughn in front of 150 Japanese sailors and soldiers.  After the execution, Captain Yoshii ordered Vaughn's body dissected, cooked and served the next day to high-ranking Japanese officers as part of their Spirit Warrior indoctrination. 

All remains of Vaughn's body were then cremated and destroyed.  At the end of the war, Ensign Koyama committed suicide in guilt over his role in Vaughn's death.  Captain Yoshii was tried for war crimes, found guilty, and hung in September 1947; he was buried in an unmarked grave on Guam, where the war crimes trial was held. 

 

With no body to return, Vaughn is remembered at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, listed in the Court of the Missing along with 28,788 other names of those Americans whose bodies are still missing from the war.  (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson) Note: Entered the service from Texas. Burial: Honolulu ABMC Memorial Honolulu Honolulu County Hawaii, USA

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