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Fire Chief Darran Vaughn’s firefighting gear sits on the front of Ladder 88 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort April 16. Vaughn has been firefighting since he was 16 years old, both as a volunteer firefighter, a Marine, and as a paid firefighter. Vaughn is slated to retire from MCAS Beaufort within the next 2 years.

Photo by Cpl. Ashley Phillips

Fightertown’s Fire Chief MCICOM civilian of the year

16 Apr 2019 | Cpl. Ashley Phillips Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort

Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort’s Fire Chief, Darran Vaughn, was selected as the Marine Corps Installations Command’s Civilian of the Year for GS 13 and below, March 15. There will be an official award ceremony at later date.

“I didn’t know I was submitted for the award,” Vaughn said. “I guess they took my write up from when I won MCAS Beaufort Civilian of the Quarter and submitted that. I don’t know too much about the award. I’m just doing what I’ve been doing since I was 16.”

Vaughn began volunteer firefighting at the age of 16 before enlisting in the Marine Corps. Following his passion, he became an aircraft recovery and firefighting Marine. After serving eight years in the Marine Corps, he continued firefighting as a civilian.

“When I got out of the Marine Corps I began working for Burton Fire,” Vaughn said. “I worked at Fort Stewart for about a year and then got hired here at MCAS Beaufort in 1996. I’ve been working here ever since.”

In the past 23 years, Vaughn has worked his way up from firefighter, to captain, to assistant fire chief and chief. It is now in his years as a chief that he has brought about the most positive changes which have led directly to the success of the fire department and ultimately of MCAS Beaufort.

“Under Chief Vaughn's guidance, the MCAS Fire and Emergency Services division was named Fire Department of the Year for small installations in 2018 and Fire Prevention Program of the Year,” said David Wilson, the logistics officer of MCAS Beaufort. “Those accomplishments speak volumes about Chief Vaughn's technical expertise, training capabilities, and his love of his profession.”

Even when Vaughn was an active duty Marine he still volunteered with local fire departments. He has spent a total of 25 years working with Burton Fire Department both volunteer and paid. Even now, he volunteers with Burton, Colleton County, and Walterboro. When he’s not firefighting, volunteering or running MCAS Beaufort FES he teaches at the South Carolina Fire Academy, which he has taught at since 1994. 

“I became the interim Fire Chief in 2016,” Vaughn said. “My time at MCAS Beaufort is coming to an end—at 57 I have to do a mandatory retirement. Later this year we will know more if I’ll be leaving this year or next. I might get an extension or I might go home. But I’m not going to quit firefighting; I’ve been doing it way too long. I knew it was what I needed to do even before I started volunteer firefighting. When I was 15, there was a huge fire in my town and seeing the community come together like that left a huge impression with me. I wanted to be a part of that.”

Ever since then, Vaughn has carried that servant leadership with him throughout his career both in and out of the Marine Corps. His efforts to build relationships and mutual aid agreements with the local fire departments enhance MCAS Beaufort’s mission readiness. He continues to work tirelessly to maintain the highest standard of morale, safety, professionalism, and readiness, Wilson said. 

His award nomination states, “The return on his efforts have been evident in numerous recent lifesaving, water rescue, and firefighting emergencies on MCAS Beaufort, Laurel Bay and in the greater Beaufort community. His leadership has solidified MCAS Beaufort FES as a model emergency response team. His dedication to mission and his “can do” attitude has consistently been above and beyond the norm. His deliberate approach to problem solving, ability to garner consensus, cooperation, and team building has made him an integral member of the MCAS Beaufort staff and make him very deserving of this recognition.”

The Civilian of the Year award was established by the Commanding General of MCICOM to give public recognition for civilian employees for distinguished or extraordinary service to the command. Out of nearly 30,000 employees, Vaughn was selected as the 2018 COY. 

“To be singled out for superior performance among that number of employees is truly significant,” Wilson said. “That level of recognition indicates commitment to the mission and organization, and performance of duties above one's peers and that sets a standard for which others can aim.”

Chief Vaughn has three daughters and four grandchildren. To give back to the community, he regularly coaches and referees high school sports. As his career at MCAS Beaufort draws to an end, his goals remain the same—to leave his firefighters with the best training and support to continue on his legacy and the high level of efficiency MCAS Beaufort FES is known for.

“The MCAS Fire Department is a team of professionals—they execute their mission with technical accuracy, teamwork, and compassion for those they serve,” Wilson said. “If I were to find myself in a situation where I need emergency first response, I want the MCAS team.”

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