COLUMBUS - State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan (D-Youngstown) today announces the passage of House Bill (HB) 291 that would name a portion of the bridge spanning interstate route 80, located in Mahoning county and being a part of the State Route 46 highway, the “Air Force 2nd Lt. William Vaughan Memorial Bridge.”
“Today, a national hero is officially recognized. 2nd Lt. Vaughan’s family has been patiently waiting for this most obvious recognition for an extremely deserving veteran,” said Rep. Lepore-Hagan. “His name will be memorialized in his hometown and generations of children will both know his name and learn about the sacrifices he made for our freedom. I am so proud to finally send this to the Governor’s desk and drive this stretch of highway soon.”
“It’s an honor to have this bridge named after William Vaughan: one of the highest and most decorated WWII Veterans in the area,” said Kenneth P. Jakubec, an Ohio Veteran’s Hall of Fame Inductee and local advocate who brought this proposal to Rep. Lepore-Hagan’s attention.
Born August 14, 1920 in Youngtown, 2nd Lt. Vaughan served as a bombardier and navigator in the Army Air Corps during World War II and was decorated with the Distinguished Service Cross with a Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and a Purple Heart. After the war, he served in the Air Force Reserve and was past commander of the Reserve Officer’s Association.
2nd Lt. Vaughan also received a Presidential Citation for bravery during a covert reconnaissance mission over enemy territory in the South Pacific. He was the Radio Operator and member of the most decorated air crew in history: Old 666. On this volunteer mission, the B-17 had 187 7.7 mm machine gun holes and five 20 mm cannon holes when it landed after 45 minutes of air battle and an estimated 20 Japanese Zeros. Dayton’s Museum of the Air Force at the Wright Patterson Air Force base has a display on this flight.
Captain Jay Zeamer (pilot) and Lieutenant Raymond Sarnoski (navigator) received the Medal of Honor (Sarnoski posthumously), with Pilot Zeamer being the most decorated in Air Force History to this day. All seven additional members of Zeamer's "Eager Beavers" crew were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. These awards were in addition to several Purple Hearts and numerous other awards both before this mission, and in subsequent actions.
This legislation will serve as a constant reminder of William Vaughan’s achievements, the challenges he faced, and serve as an inspiration for future generations.
HB 291 now moves to the Governor’s desk.