Long after his retirement as a three-star Army general, James B. Vaught maintained a sense of command as he spoke about causes and issues important to him.
Following Vaught’s death Sept. 20, Horry County Council Chairman Mark Lazarus spoke for many when he commented that the retired lieutenant general will be greatly missed. Recalling Vaught’s command to Lazarus to “get it done!’’ in a conversation about paving work on International Drive, Lazarus said: “It’ll give me more determination to get the paving done.’’
That was Jim Vaught, who in most cases, did not need to remind anyone that he had been in the military. He attended The Citadel and served 38 years in the Army, having been drafted in 1945 and commissioned a second lieutenant in February 1946.
His distinguished military career included assignments with the storied 82nd Airborne Division, command of the 24th Infantry Division and with the Army General Staff, the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Office of the Secretary of Defense. His last active duty command before his 1983 retirement was of a field army in Korea.
Since retirement, he served as a consultant and advisor to military and civilian agencies, including the secretary of defense’s special operations policy and advisory group.
A native of Conway, his family’s Horry County roots go back to 1683, and he was a direct descendant of Francis Marion, the legendary “Swamp Fox’’ of the Revolutionary War.
Perhaps Vaught was so forthright as a citizen because of his military experience. He was well-informed on the issues and he felt deeply about a citizen’s right and responsibility to speak out.
It was indeed fitting that in the Horry County Council meeting room, the chair he often occupied now includes a bronze label inscribed with the words: ``In Memoriam Lt. General James B. Vaught, 1926-2013.’’