A publication of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. ®
An organization chartered by the U.S. Congress

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 make.

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


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