Major General Harry Vaughn


Major General Harry Vaughn was born in Missouri and attended Westminster College. Afterwards he became military aide to President Harry Truman. Mr. Vaughn retired as a major general and has lived in the Belle Haven area for many years.

I first met Harry Truman in 1918. We were in the same brigade together. We were friends. We would see each other about a half-dozen times a year. We would go to camp together at Fort Riley every summer. I was his secretary when he was reelected to the Senate. I handled his campaign in St. Louis. Then I went on active duty. I went back on a committee to investigate the war effort. I was the liaison between the War Department and the Truman Committee.

When he was Vice President, I was made his military aide. I was the first military aide to a Vice President because Truman was the first Vice President to ever ask for one. Then I was his aide all the time he was in office.

After he left Washington and went back to Independence, (Missouri), I retired a couple of weeks later. Truman was very polite and courtly with the ladies. You know you can't drive artillery teams and speak Oxford, English. They would never understand you. You have to put a few punctuations in there. Even in his poker games he used profanity, but he never used obscene language like Nick. Nixon's specialty was obscene language.

I never played poker in the White House, and I don't remember that Harry Truman ever played poker in the White House. We played hundreds and hundreds of hours of poker on the Williamsburg ship, and on an airplane flying somewhere and down at Key West, but we never played poker in the White House. There was always too much to do.

I would run him out of a pot and show him he would have really had me beat if he stayed in, and he would say, "You S.O.B! I am going to make you a sergeant tomorrow.”

They were opening this bridge and they had some traffic difficulty going down toward Quantico, where we frequently went for the weekend. So the bridge was up and here were cars lined up for miles on both sides. We were sitting on back of the ship, and Truman said, "You know its a good thing I am not running for anything." He said, "Right at rush hour, holding up traffic like this I am losing a thousand votes a minute.” He said they were saying, "Why don't the Old S.O.B. get his damn ship down the river before rush hour."

In about October of 1945, Doctor McLure, President of Westminster College, who had been a classmate of mine came to my office and said Mr. Churchill was going to be in the United States during the following spring of '46. He wanted to invite him to come to the college and give an address. I said, ''Well, why don‘t you write him a letter?" ''Well,'' he said, "I got one here." So he showed me the letter.

I said, ''Let's go over and see the boss." I called up Mr. Truman. He had a few minutes, and he knew Dr. McLure too. We went over there and I explained to the President what it was that Dr. McLure wanted.

Truman said, ''Let me see the letter." He looked at the letter, and wrote in longhand, down at the bottom, "Dear Winston, if you will come out and make a speech, I'll take you out and introduce you." He said, ''Now you send it to him." So with that endorsement we were half way to second base.

That was exactly what Churchill wanted because his party was out of power. They had gotten defeated and the labor party was in. Churchill wanted an opportunity to make a speech and say some things that he thought should be said. Mr. Churchill went to Dr. McLure and accepted the invitation. He came to Washington.

We arranged to go out by train. Churchill didn't like to fly, so we arranged to go out on the President’s special car. The train went by the Missouri Pacific to Jefferson City, Missouri. Then we got in our cars and drove 25 miles to Fulton. So Churchill made the speech.

After the speech, Churchill had dinner in the president's, (McLure's), house. I was sitting at the table right next to Churchill. There was fried chicken, hot biscuits, and two or three vegetables, and country ham. Churchill took thirds on fried chicken and on ham. He ate about eight biscuits. He was a good trencherman, as well as a drinker.

When we were out to get in the car to drive back down to Jefferson City, the President and Mr. Churchill were sitting in the back seat and I got in with the naval aide. We sat on the jump seat. Churchill says, "General Vaughan, I understand you 're an old boy from this school."

I said, “Yes, Mr. Churchill, I spent four happy years here." He said, ''Do they always eat like that?" I said, "That is just a little snack Mrs. McLure knocked together for you." Then I said, "You ought to be here for one of the annual Callaway dinners."

Churchill said, "I never saw so much food in my life." You see he had been indulging in austerity for about five years. In England, you know, they were heavily rationed, and he took it like everyone else.

Volume Three, Table of Contents
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