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Perhaps there is some confusion between you and your former employer.
An "in-kind" transfer refers to transfering the exact investments from one account to another. What you are trying to do is a rollover from a 401k plan to a traditional IRA at Vanguard. If the investments in your 401k cannot be held by Vanguard then they must be sold and rolled over as cash. The important thing is that they stay within a tax advantaged account so you are not subject to taxes and penalties. Some plan administrators do have a problem with sending a check to another institution. As an alternate they can send a check to you payable to "Vanguard FBO (for benefit of) meowmixx". This will accomplish what you want to do except you will then have to pass the check on to Vanguard.
I might be better if you worked this from Vanaguard so they can "pull" the money rather than from your 401k so they have to "push" the money. Contact Vanguard, tell them what you want to do, and they can help with what ever forms need to be filled out and they will take it from there.

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