Dick Vaughan was born in 1945 in St. George, South Carolina. After graduating with a bachelor's degree from Clemson University, South Carolina, in 1967, Dick taught high school mathematics for two years, and then enlisted in the U.S. Air Force Reserve on September 25, 1969. He entered Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, Texas, on December 4, 1969, and was commissioned a 2nd Lt in the U.S. Air Force on April 2, 1970. Lt Vaughan next completed Undergraduate Navigator Training and was awarded his navigator wings at Mather AFB, California, in January 1971, followed by Weapon Systems Officer (WSO) training and F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training at George AFB, California, from January to September 1971. He served as an F-4D WSO with the 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron at Udorn Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from October 1971 until he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War on December 18, 1971. After spending 467 days in captivity, Lt Vaughan was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, and then entered Undergraduate Pilot Training at Moody AFB, Georgia, in December 1973, earning his pilot wings in July 1975. Capt Vaughan next served as a CT-39 Sabreliner pilot with Detachment 1 of the 1402nd Military Airlift Squadron at Langley AFB, Virginia, from July 1975 to June 1978, followed by service as an A-10 Thunderbolt II pilot with the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing at Myrtle Beach AFB, South Carolina, from June 1978 to December 1980. Maj Vaughan served as a T-38 Talon instructor pilot with the 88th Flying Training Squadron at Sheppard AFB, Texas, from December 1980 to November 1983, and then as an F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot and as Chief of Safety with the 50th Tactical Fighter Wing at Hahn AB, West Germany, from November 1983 to December 1986. His final assignment was with the 507th Tactical Air Control Wing at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, from December 1986 until his retirement from the Air Force on September 1, 1991.
His Distinguished Flying Cross w/Valor Citation reads:
First Lieutenant Samuel R. Vaughan distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Weapon Systems Officer on 18 December 1971. On that date, Lieutenant Vaughan participated as the Air Defense cover for a highly sensitive mission over extremely hostile territory. Despite the fact that his wingman was unable to provide him protection, Lieutenant Vaughan elected to enter the hostile environment to complete the mission. Due to his unwavering courage and professionalism, the highly important mission was accomplished successfully. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Vaughan has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.