Sun 10:50pm: Warren veteran remembers being in Alaska when it became a state

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WARREN — While serving in the U.S. Army, Warren resident Darby Vaughn was among those soldiers stationed in Alaska when it officially became a state.

“It was a celebration when that happened. It was good to know that it had become a part of the United States,” said Vaughn who at the time was stationed in Fairbanks, north of Anchorage.

“Knowing it became a state and I was on foreign soil before it officially became a state was something I was always proud to be part of,” he said.

Alaska was admitted as the 49th state of the U.S. on Jan. 3, 1959.

Vaughn later spent more than 35 years as a member of the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office.

But after graduation from Warren G. Harding High School, he joined the Army and was sent with the 18th Engineering Co. to Fairbanks, Alaska, where he was stationed at the Ladd Air Force Base.

“We were informed that if Russia were to attack the United States, we would only last 20 minutes because Russia is so close to Alaska. When it is really cold and icy, you can walk to Russia,” Vaughn said.

The battle never came, but Vaughn said the soldiers prepared.

“Fairbanks was right there near the border, so we had to be ready if something were to happen,” he said.

He said it was a memorable experience serving in Alaska but noted it time adjusting to having 24 hours of daylight in the summer and 24 hours of darkness in the winter.

“That 24 hours of darkness was a trip. I mean, it was dark and then just when you got used to 24 hours of darkness, you had to get ready for 24 hours of daylight. It’s hard to sleep when it is all daylight and also when it is all dark. You really have to adjust yourself and try to make it the best way you can,” Vaughn said.

Read more of Vaughn’s time in service in the Monday Tribune Chronicle.