By Mary Creighton, Special to the Index
It is a small world after all. John “Shotgun” Vaughan graduated from MWHS in 1944 at the young age of 16. John went to Tarleton College for one year before heading to Texas A&M at College Station. John was graduated from Texas A&M in 1949 with a degree in Animal Husbandry. This is now known as Animal Science.
At Texas A&M John had Mr. Eli L. Whiteley as a teacher for agronomy during this sophomore year. According to John, Mr. Whiteley was an average teacher but a very good man.
John said it was only after he completed the course that he learned Mr. Whiteley had received a Medal of Honor while serving in the US Army in 1944 during WWII. Mr. Whiteley received his medal from action at Sigolsheim, France. Previous to this, Mr. Whiteley was trained at Camp Wolters in 1942, making him one of the 14 Medal of Honor recipients who will be recognized on March 23 at the Fort Wolters Historical Park where a large Medal of Honor Memorial will be dedicated at 10 a.m.
John Vaughan recalled some of his early experiences while in high school and in college during an interview Jan. 31, 2013. Seems John had an agriculture teacher at MWHS by the name of Reed. This teacher went on to Tarleton as a teacher. As luck would have it, John took a course under Mr. Reed and did amazingly well.
It seems that in high school and in college, John played in the band, both at Tarleton and Texas A&M. In high school, John and classmate Tom “Tommy” Creighton played with a no name band for small functions around Mineral Wells for nothing. They just liked to play music. John played trombone. Tom Creighton played clarinet. Jean Tillison played piano along with Bob Durham who played trumpet. John cannot remember all the members of this little band, but recalled how much fun they had.
MWHS had other memories for John. Seems that his senior year there were not enough football players so he and a couple of other folks were asked to go out so they would at least make a showing. John said he weighed about 115 pounds and never lettered. He recalls that in 1943 that team was the one Breckenridge just leveled with a score 103 to 0. It was talked about all over the state. However , in defense of MWHS, that was the year that Breckenridge won state championship in football.
In the interview, John talked about his military experience. Seems John thought he would join the National Guard and not have to serve active Army, but in 1951 the Korean War broke out and he was drafted into active Army. There were four busloads of men that left the Baker Hotel for Camp Chaffy, AR, for training. John said that 150 or so men from Palo Pinto County were called up at that time.
He laughed about training on the grounds of what is now Mineral Wells High School when the Army had very challenging roads cut into portions of the property to represent roads like would be found in Burma during WWII. It was certainly different.
John went to leadership school. It was about that time that he and Elizabeth Messengale were married. John then went to OCS schooling to become a second luietentent.
He chose quartermaster as his area so went to Ft. Lee, VA, for that training. He spent one and one-half years at Fort Bliss, TX, before leaving the Army in 1953. He liked the Army, but Elizabeth was ready for him to return to civilian life. After a few other jobs, John came back to Mineral Wells and managed an appliance store about seven years before going into business with Shotgun’s BBQ. This business was his priority for several years before retiring.
John “Shotgun’’ Vaughan recalled serving on our Board of Trustees for two full terms and into another term when he resigned to run Shotgun’s BBQ. Those were good years for John.
So now we see that it really is a small world. We seem to be connected in different ways. It was only after reading about our Medal of Honor recognition of recipients that John knew Mr. Whiteley had been trained here at Camp Wolters. John looks forward to being present for the dedication on March 23 for the 14 recipients that include his old agronomy teacher, Mr. Eli L. Whiteley.