Sampers, James William, IC1

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Petty Officer First Class
Last Primary NEC
IC-0000-Interior Communications Electrician
Last Rating/NEC Group
Interior Communications Electrician
Primary Unit
1969-1969, IC-0000, River Squadron 51 (RIVRON 51), River Patrol Flotilla 5 (RIVPATFLOT 5)
Service Years
1961 - 1969
IC-Interior Communications Electrician
Two Hash Marks

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Gregory Ritchey, GMG3 to remember Sampers, James William, IC1.

If you knew or served with this Sailor and have additional information or photos to support this Page, please leave a message for the Page Administrator(s) HERE.
Casualty Info
Home Town
Storm Lake, IA
Last Address
Storm Lake, IA

Casualty Date
Sep 07, 1969
Hostile, Died
Other Explosive Device
Gia Dinh (Vietnam)
Vietnam War
Location of Interment
Saint Marys Cemetery - Storm Lake, Iowa
Wall/Plot Coordinates
18W 056

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 Military Association Memberships
Vietnam Veterans MemorialThe National Gold Star Family Registry
  1969, Vietnam Veterans Memorial [Verified] - Assoc. Page
  2018, The National Gold Star Family Registry

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 Unit Assignments/ Advancement Schools
Naval Inshore Operations Training Center (Staff)SERE SchoolNaval Advisory Group VietnamRiver Squadron 51 (RIVRON 51), River Patrol Flotilla 5 (RIVPATFLOT 5)
  1968-1968, IC-0000, Naval Inshore Operations Training Center (Staff)
  1968-1968, IC-0000, SERE School
  1968-1969, IC-0000, Naval Advisory Group Vietnam
  1969-1969, IC-0000, River Squadron 51 (RIVRON 51), River Patrol Flotilla 5 (RIVPATFLOT 5)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1968-1969 Vietnam War
  1968-1969 Operation Giant Slingshot
  1969-1969 Vietnam War/Vietnam Summer-Fall 1969 Campaign
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Sep 07, 2012, General Photos2
 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

Jim Sampers
Our dad was a U.S. Naval Advisor to Vietnamese River Patrol Group 51.  His unit was comprised of 6-8 American advisors and the rest of the unit was Vietnamese Naval personnel. He was stationed at Cat Lai, Vietnam from January to September 1969.  Cat Lai is approximately 18 kilometers southeast of Saigon.

My father was killed when the jeep he was riding in was ambushed about 4 kilometers from Cat Lai on September 7,1969. The Viet Cong set off a land mine underneath my dad's jeep which threw him and his partner, EN2 Alan Joslin, about 50-60 feet away. While my dad was knocked unconscious, Alan was still awake but had 3rd degree burns over 50% of his body. The Viet Cong. rushed up and shot my dad in the neck with a shotgun killing him instantly.  Alan was shot 2-3 times and the Viet Cong. proceeded to strip my dad's body of all his stuff. Alan was able to crawl to the rode unobserved and a local villager happened by on a moped. Alan reached up and grabbed the moped as it sped by and the villager dragged him into the next village.  Alan was medi-vac out and survived after spending over a year in hospitals. He lost a lung because of his injuries.

The only way I am able to know all of these details is because my family and I met Alan and his family in Washington, D.C. at Father's Day 1993.  I have met 2 men who served with my dad in River Patrol Group 51 and also live in the same city as an Army vet who was a radio operator at Cat Lai and knew my dad and Alan.

Dad is survived by our mother and his four children, three sons, myself, Steve and Ron and a daughter, Chris.


As the Vietnamese Navy's primary combat arm, the River Force was charged with operating with the army to defeat the enemy in the vital Mekong Delta. Recognizing the importance of this mission, the Naval Advisory Group worked to procure new and replacement craft. The River Force received hundreds of craft from 1965 to mid-1968, including specially configured LCM 6 and LCM 8 landing craft that served as monitors, command boats, troop transports, minesweeping boats, patrol vessels, and fuel barges. The United States also provided the river sailors with 27 American-built river patrol craft (RPC). Unfortunately, these vessels proved to be too noisy, underarmed, and easily slowed by river vegetation.

The acquisition of all the new craft enabled the Vietnamese Navy to create another seven river assault groups. However, six of the newer groups (28-33) operated with eight fewer craft than the normal complement of 19 river craft. The 27th RAG, a special formation, deployed 22 boats. Formed by the Vietnamese Navy in June 1968, River Patrol Group 51, contained the first eight PBRs turned over by the U.S. Navy and assigned duty on the Long Tau and Dong Nai rivers. The following month, the 32d RAG redeployed to Thua Thien north of Hue where it incorporated a six-boat detachment based there since May 1967. The other components of the River Force, the River Transport Group, until dissolved in March 1966, and the 28-boat River Transport Escort Group, added to the mobility and firepower of the command.



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