USA — Today’s dedication of the Rutherford County Fallen Firefighters Memorial on the Public Square will be an emotional one for 71-year-old Winfred Miles Vaughn.
His father, Winfred Vaughn, died while responding to a fire in Murfreesboro, just months before Miles was born.
“My mother was four months pregnant with me,” Vaughn said.
A newspaper account in The Daily News Journal on March 2, 1939, said that Miles Vaughn, 36, a 13-year veteran of the Murfreesboro Fire Department, and A.C. Cartwright, 22, who was employed for almost three years, died in a collision with a pickup truck at the intersection of Spring and Lytle streets as they were answering a call to a grass fire. Two women in the truck, including the driver, were injured, and three other firemen on the pump truck were injured and treated at Rutherford Hospital.
“The paper said the wreck occurred one block from my dad’s home,” said Vaughn, a retired J.C. Penney employee. “It was Murfreesboro’s first fatal accident of the year.”
Vaughn never knew his father, and his older sister was only eight months old when their father died.
In addition to Winfred Vaughn and Cartwright, the new memorial to be unveiled in an 11 a.m. ceremony at the County Courthouse will also pay tribute to Jason Jackson Hampton, a 17-year-old volunteer with the Almaville Fire Department. A recent graduate of Smyrna High School, the U.S. Army recruit died Sept. 5, 2002, while driving a tanker truck to a brush fire.
“He was scheduled to attend his basic training on Sept. 18 (that year),” said Gary Farley, assistant fire chief for the Murfreesboro Fire Department.
Detective Rick Hall was working the day the accident happened near Almaville Road and Morton Lane.
“The tanker had a huge amount of weight and water with it, and there were no shoulders on the road,” Hall said. “(Hampton) rolled it in the ditch. He was just a young kid volunteering his time.”
The lost firefighters will be honored thanks to efforts by two Murfreesboro Fire Department employees.