His Distinguished Flying Cross w/Valor Citation reads:
First Lieutenant Samuel R. Vaughan distinguished himself by heroism while participating in aerial flight as a Weapon Systems Officer on 18 December 1971. On that date, Lieutenant Vaughan participated as the Air Defense cover for a highly sensitive mission over extremely hostile territory. Despite the fact that his wingman was unable to provide him protection, Lieutenant Vaughan elected to enter the hostile environment to complete the mission. Due to his unwavering courage and professionalism, the highly important mission was accomplished successfully. The outstanding heroism and selfless devotion to duty displayed by Lieutenant Vaughan has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.