It's no wonder Capt. Darran Vaughn feels so at home a few hundred yards from the flightline at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.
A former Marine sergeant at MCAS Beaufort, Vaughn, 44, works as an engine captain and training officer for the base's civilian structural fire department, work that recently earned him recognition from his peers in the state's fire service.
At its annual conference last month in Myrtle Beach, the S.C. Firefighters Association presented Vaughn, a Beaufort resident by way of Henderson, Ky., with the Clyde B. Spillers Education of the Year Award. Named in honor of a former Williamsburg County Fire Chief who gave more than 2,700 hours of instruction over his 17-year career, the award is given annually to the firefighter who "uses his or her educational skills to not only train members of the fire service, but also educate the general public in fire prevention."
Winning the award never really crossed his mind, Vaughn said.
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"I didn't even think I stood a chance knowing some of the guys that had one it in the past," he said. "All I've tried to do is give the guys the instruction they need to do the job and make sure everyone understands."
Joe Palmer, executive director of the S.C. Firefighters Association, said Vaughn has done far more than that since becoming a member of the state's fire service in 1987 when Vaughn, then a Marine firefighter with the air station's crash crew, transferred to Fightertown from a base in Hawaii. He left the Corps in 1991.
"Darran shows all that is needed and required of an excellent fire service instructor on the surface," Palmer said. "But when you look beyond his immediate service record, you see all that exemplifies excellence and service above and beyond the call of duty.
"Darran ... serves not only Beaufort County but surrounding counties with his instructional skills, (and is also) responsible for ... the technical skills and achievements of hundreds of Lowcountry firefighters, and genuinely cares for his fellow fire service professionals," Palmer said.
A firefighter at the air station since 1997, Vaughn has also been a volunteer firefighter for the Burton Fire District for more than two decades and was a paid member of the department for six years after leaving the Marine Corps.
Burton Chief Harry Rountree said Vaughn's recognition is long overdue.
"He always helps out wherever he can," Rountree said. "We're proud that he was finally recognized."