Colonel Vaughan Witten was born on 18 February 1935 in Anawalt, West Virginia in a small coal mining village of about 2000 people, McDowell County. Born of wonderful parents, mother Arlene Walker Witten of Martinsville, VA., his father a coal miner and Baptist Minister Alphonso Witten of Anawalt, WV. Dr. Witten has five siblings Audrey (deceased), Sandra, Janita, James and Emma. Both mother and father passed away in 2000 and 1991 respectively. Dr. Witten was educated in a small one room schoolhouse with one teacher who taught six different grades in different corners of a small space. After grade school, he graduated from Washington High School in London, WV at the age of 15. He joined the Air Force at age 17 and served 27 years, including three tours in Vietnam and duty in Thailand, Japan, Greenland, Iceland, Greece, Portugal, The Azores and the Philippines. He earned the Bronze Star and achieved the highest enlisted rank of Command Chief Master Sergeant.
On the academic side of his life, Dr. Witten acquired two BA Degrees from Shaw University and North Carolina State University, and a PhD in Psychology from North Carolina State in 1989. After retiring from the Air Force, he taught psychology and sociology as a professor at Park College, Webster University and Shaw University for 34 years. Now fully retired, he spends his time learning foreign languages, welding, wood building, forklift driving, art and much more. To remain active, he also enjoys mountain bike riding and frequents numerous parks and the hills of North Carolina and West Virginia. Dr. Witten, having absorbed the blows of the death of both parents and the recent death of his beloved wife Mildred after 50 years of marriage, provides through his episodic journey the thrill, wonder, joy, pain and appreciation of his life in Appalachia –a virtual paradise on earth provided by God, family and America– and finally the despair of a virtual Purgatory in a declining, immoral, decadent culture that he perceives devolving before his eyes in America.
The Journey is dedicated to my wife Mildred, Scott, Brian, my parents, Alphonso and Arlene Witten, the immediate and extended Witten and Walker family, Mildred’s (Williams) family, my Air Force comrades, my Shaw colleagues and friends I have made around the U.S. and the world as I passed through on the journey. I equally dedicate this book to the good people of Kanawha Valley and West Virginia in general for their honesty, pride, work ethic, compassion and overall integrity. Finally, to the demanding, but gentle and concerned faculty and staff of Washington High School in London for their efforts and love in preparing me for the big world outside of West Virginia. All mentioned have contributed to my confidence, education and overall worldview.