In August, 2011, Chief Special Warfare Operator Aaron Vaughn lost his life in combat when the Chinook helicopter he and 37 other American and Afghan warfighters were flying on was shot down during a high-stakes kill-or-capture mission.
The incident — known by the helicopter’s call sign as “Extortion 17” — became the single deadliest day in SEAL Team 6 history, with 15 operators and two ST6 bomb disposal technicians among those killed in the crash.
Years later, the Cabot Gun Company, known for its unique and incredibly rare custom guns, has designed and produced a single 1911-style pistol — arguably impossible to replicate and the only one of its kind ever built — to honor Vaughn and other special operators like him who have died while in service to their country.
What exactly makes this 1911 so rare, you might ask?
Well, for starters, Cabot didn't just set out to craft a quality 1911 -- a gun which is widely loved and revered among firearms enthusiasts, collectors and military users for over a century. The company decided to make the most American pistol they could come up with to honor one of the country's most elite fallen warriors.
The slide of the pistol has Vaughn's name and initials etched in bold lettering, along with a trigger stamped with stars, and dark wooden grips. Visually, the gun looks great, but it's what the gun is made of that makes it even cooler.
Housed in the frame of the pistol is the trigger, chiseled and carved from a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite. Small chunks of that same meteorite are used for the 1911's rear sight as well.
The grips of the gun, made of polished oak, come from the US Navy’s oldest ship still in commissioned service today, the USS Constitution (which also happens to be the only ship presently on active duty with a confirmed kill to its name).
It doesn't end there.
James Hintzke, founder of Valhalla's Forge, was responsible for designing and handcrafting the case that will house Vaughn's memorial 1911. Hintzke, a retired Navy SEAL with a career that spanned 30 years in the Navy, selected pieces of objects with significant American historical value for inclusion in the case.
The mahogany case alone includes the following:
- A piece of a U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane
- Teak from the decks of the battleship USS New Jersey, one of the most decorated warships in American history
- A fragment of the now-destroyed Berlin Wall
- A piece from a Los Angeles-class hunter/killer submarine
- Oak recovered from the 1944 D-Day invasion during the Second World War
- Steel recovered from the World Trade Centers after the 9/11 attacks
Both the pistol and its case were built to be auctioned off, with the proceeds going to Operation 300, a charity established in remembrance of Vaughn, a devoted husband and father of two.
According to their website, Operation 300 “hosts adventure camps for children who have lost their fathers as a result of military service, pairing each child with a father-aged, male mentor who spends the weekend doing things with the children they might have done with their dad.”