Officer J.W. Vaughan served with the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division during World War II. He had been an officer of the 101st Airborne since its inception in August 1942. Major Vaughan was among the many from his division who were mis-dropped into the darkness of the Normandy terrain during the early morning operations of D-Day on June 6, 1944. He was eventually able to band together with others from his unit. The objective of Major Vaughan's unit was to secure four roads leading to Utah Beach. Approximately one mile from Ste. Mere Eglise, they intercepted an enemy column that was transporting supplies via horse drawn wagons. Major Vaughan, who was the S-4 officer, was commanded to secure the wagons. In the darkness, with his .45 drawn, Vaughan walked to the back of the train. A burst of fire erupted, and Vaughan was killed.
Major Vaughan was the highest ranking officer of the 502nd PIR to lose his life during the invasion on June 6 and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart. He is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery in St. Laurent-sur-Mer, France. Vaughan was born in Campbellsburg, Kentucky on February 6, 1911, and was a graduate of Arsenal Technical High School in Indianapolis. He had been appointed to the Indianapolis Police Department on December 1, 1936. He was survived by his wife, Estella, and a five-year old daughter and an eighteen-month old son.
Sources: The Indianapolis News, date unknown; American Battle Monuments Commission website; Indianapolis Police Department Personnel Records; HBO Band of Brothers Living Memorial story submitted by Emil P. Albanese.