Travis R Vaughn

REINBECK, IA, USA U.S. Army SPC, COMPANY B, 2D BATTALION, 160TH AVIATION, FORT CAMPBELL, KY QALAT, AFGHANISTAN 02/18/2007

A soldier from Iowa died in the weekend crash of a military helicopter in southeastern Afghanistan, his family said Monday.

Specialist Travis Vaughn, of Cedar Falls, died early Sunday in the crash of a CH-47 Chinook, his stepmother, Kandi Vaughn, of Reinbeck, said. They were told the helicopter “lost power,” she said.

“It’s like a bad dream,” Kandi Vaughn said. “You say a little prayer for the people you see, the pictures you see on TV and you say a little prayer for the family. Now, it’s us.”

The military said the Chinook was carrying 22 U.S. service members when it crashed in the Shahjoi district of Zabul province, about 50 yards from the main highway between Kabul and Kandahar. Eight American troops were killed. Fourteen people on board survived.It was the worst U.S. crash in Afghanistan since last May.

Travis Vaughn grew up in Cedar Falls and graduated from Cedar Falls High School. He joined the Army about three ago, Kandi Vaughn said. He was stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.He and his wife, Heather, who grew up in Waterloo, have a 5-year-old son, Taylin. They live in the Fort Campbell area.

“He was a really good kid. He really changed his life around when he decided to go in the Army. He just gave it his all,” Kandi Vaughn said.

“Travis’ dad (Brad) said ‘Of course he had to do special ops. He couldn’t just go in and be in, he had to do the risky stuff,’ “she said.

Kandi Vaughn said when he was little, Travis loved to tear his toys apart.

“He could tear a Chinook apart and put it back together,” almost blindfolded, she said.

Vaughn, 25, “was a real solid kid,” said the Reverend John Fuller, pastor of Prairie Lakes Church in Cedar Falls, who learned of Vaughn’s death Sunday morning. Fuller married Vaughn and his wife, Heather, in an Iowa ceremony two years ago. The couple had lived near the Fort Campbell, Ky., military base.

“He came into Heather’s life, and he became Christian. Heather had a son, and he really took on the father’s role. He was a good father and a good husband,” Fuller said.

Travis’ portrait is also located on Poster 6