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A Life Dedicated to Service by Robert Voris M


ajor Quentin Vaughn is probably the toughest economist you’re liable to meet. At 36, the Dallas native is both a helicopter pilot for the United States Marine Corps and a student in pursuit of his MBA. “It’s been a real blessed life,” Vaughn says of the 14 years he has spent in the Marines. “I’ve been able to achieve just about everything I wanted growing up.”


The first goal he set for himself was becoming a military man. He was nine years old and enjoyed camping and Rambo above all things. Not long after resolving to join the military, he saw Marines in their dress blue uniforms and knew in which branch he wanted to enlist. With two big decisions taken care of, the teenage Quentin Vaughn was able to focus on the big question facing very few high school students --whether to become a Marine Officer. Vaughn opted for the officer path and earned a competitive appointment to the United States Naval Academy. The Academy did not offer his first choice of a major, accounting, so he went for the closest thing – economics. When the Marine Corps asked newly-graduated Second Lieutenant Vaughn which were his top choices for assignment, financial management officer was predictably on the list. Vaughn was assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, where for three years he served as a Disbursing Officer, helping to manage payroll, travel vouchers and reimbursements for the base. Among the other picks on Vaughn’s list of Marine dream


jobs was pilot. He had been promoted to first lieutenant and was eager to push himself in a new direction. “Improving yourself continually and keeping your sword sharp” are goals that Vaughn says he shares with the Marine Corps. He began flight school in early 2001 and was promoted to captain in July of that year. He later learned to fly helicopters, earning his wings in August 2002. While he was in flight school at Pensacola, FL, in addition to his helicopter training and promotion, Vaughn made time to court his future wife, Tonia. She teaches college-level mathematics. They have been married for nearly ten years and Vaughn has been stationed overseas for some of that time. He says that the advances in communications technology during their marriage have made his deployments less difficult than they might have been. “Between cell phones, faster regular mail and e-mail, we were able to stay in touch basically every day,” he remembers.


Promoted to major in 2007, Vaughn has served in Iraq and


learned to fly three different types of helicopters since graduating from flight school. Now he is stationed at Quantico, VA and on his own time is working toward a Master’s in Business Administration - and the Marine Corps is helping him pay for it. “This goes back to continually seeking self- improvement and developing insight into the world,” Vaughn says of his current studies. “Perhaps I can present some of the


Maj Vaughn receiving a Speaker Appreciation Award at the 2011 National Society of Black Engineers conference in St. Louis, MO.


Maj Vaughn with the winners of the Excellence in Leadership Award at the 2011 National Society of Black Engineers conference in St. Louis, MO.


knowledge I’ve obtained to the other professionals in the Marine Corps that will help all of us in achieving a goal.” So, is the Master’s Degree the first step toward a post- Marine career as an accountant who also flies helicopters? Vaughn isn’t thinking that far ahead. He plans on serving at least another six years in the Corps, during which time he hopes to be promoted to lieutenant colonel and command his own squadron of helicopter pilots. And if the Corps were to look at his degrees and his past service and assign him to a different leadership post? No problem, according to Vaughn. “Being a Marine is more important to me than being a pilot. We’re Marines first. We’re leaders before we’re pilots.” And before he was a pilot or a leader, he was a teenager


who liked numbers, and before that, he was a boy who liked camping, Rambo and the Marine Corps’ dress blue uniform. Funny how it all works out sometimes.


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