October 1999/November 1999
Sons and Daughters In Touch
The Story Behind The Name
By Jim Sampers
My name is Jim Sampers of Denver, Colorado. I am the son of IC1 James
W. Sampers, whose name is inscribed on Panel 18W, Line 56, of the Vietnam
Veterans Memorial. He served in the U.S. Navy for nine years.
My father served his first tour in Vietnam aboard the USS Franklin
D. Roosevelt from July 25 to December 27, 1966. The FDR was
part of the Southeast Asia Combat Operations in the Gulf of Tonkin. For
his second tour in 1969, my father served as a U.S. Naval adviser to Vietnamese
River Patrol Group 51 at Cat Lai. While stationed at Cat Lai, he participated
in more than 110 combat missions.
On September 7, 1969, my father was traveling from Saigon to Cat Lai
with Ens. Alan Joslin. Their jeep was ambushed approximately four kilometers
northwest of Cat Lai by small-arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.
My father was killed and Joslin was severely wounded. Fortunately, Joslin
survived the ambush. The senior adviser, Lt. James G. Callaway, sent a
personal letter to my family expressing his condolences and his sorrow
for our loss. In this letter he also described his friendship with my father
and included his address. Since then, Lt. Callaway has always made himself
available to talk with my family.
At the time of my father's death, I was six years old. My brothers Steve
and Ron were seven and five. My sister, Chris, was only two. My mother
was twenty-six. All of us attended the Sons and Daughters In Touch Father's
Day Reunions in 1992 and 1993. After Father's Day 1992, we were contacted
by Sgt. Dick Moore, who served with my father at Cat Lai and lives in Aurora,
Colorado, not fifteen miles from me. He provided a lot of information about
my father and explained the photographs my father sent home. Moore was
instrumental in uniting my family with Ens. Joslin.
Father's Day 1993 provided an opportunity for my family to meet Alan
Joslin and his family. Besides telling us about the day our father died,
Joslin described the day-to-day life and the good times he and our father
experienced in Vietnam. All of these events helped us to see the whole
picture of our father's life in Vietnam. Learning what my dad did was like
having a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. It answered many questions
I had carried around for twenty-four years. It was an honor to be present
for the reunion between Moore and Joslin. Spending Father's Day at The
Wall with them helped me to understand that my dad's death affected
more than just my family.
I am in my second term as a board member of SDIT. I am helping to plan
Father's Day 2000. My involvement in SDIT has provided me opportunities
to meet many Vietnam veterans who have taught me a great deal about Vietnam.
I also have made several long-lasting friendships with other sons and daughters.
I encourage all veterans, as well as sons and daughters, to do everything
they can to make connections like the ones I've been fortunate enough to
If you knew IC1 James W. Samplers, please contact me at Jim@sdit.org
For more information about Sons and Daughters in Touch, call us at 800-984-9994
or visit our web site at http://www.sdit.org
E-mail us at TheVeteran@vva.org