David Amon Sanford – Sergeant, United States Army

Date of Birth: 4/5/1931
Date of Casualty: 2/7/1968
Branch of Service: ARMY
Rank: SFC
Casualty Country: SOUTH VIETNAM
Casualty Province: THUA THIEN

Sterling Heights woman keeps Dad's memory alive

Among the 58,249 Americans who died in the Vietnam War, about one-third were fathers, including Sgt. 1st class David Amon Sanford of Livonia.

His daughter, Susan Gough, is one of the 20,000 American children who were left without fathers.

Gough, of Sterling Heights, is a member of Sons and Daughters In Touch, an organization established 15 years ago that brings together children of those killed or missing. They come together each Father's Day to proclaim they are “Proud to Remember.”

For many, it is the first time that they are emotionally able to touch their father's name on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Gough posted an Internet message to her father: “I miss you every day, dad, and I hope that the journey that I am now undertaking will help me to get to know you better. I pray every day that I will find someone who knew you in the service as it is too painful for anyone to talk about who you were.”

Sanford was a career soldier of 17 years. He arrived in Vietnam on September 24, 1967, served in the 1st Cavalry HHC, and was killed February 7, 1968, in Thua Thien at age 36. He was an ROTC instructor 1964-65 at Chadsey High School. He was wounded October 7, 1951, in the Korean War.

Gough brought her husband and children to “The Wall” in June and to where Sanford is buried in Arlington National Cemetery so that they could touch his name. Gough left him her first Father's Day card.

As a 4-year-old, Gough remembers a soldier knocking on the door at 2 a.m. to tell the family of her father's death.

“At Arlington, there was a little girl hugging her dad's tombstone,” Gough said. “I hugged my dad's tombstone. The first time I remember ‘hugging my dad,' I was 42 years old.”

As a nurse who counsels people, she said children should have the experience of attending funerals and expressing grief.

At the organization's June events, the Department of Defense honored each of the sons and daughters with a gold star pin. Gough wears it to start conversations about her father, the organization and the importance of supporting families suffering because of our current conflicts.

SDIT members speak to students about the historical and emotional legacy of war.

“We need to talk about death in military service and how it affects families. It isn't easy, but we can't let people suffer in silence. I don't want children of this war to go through what we went through. We have to talk about what going to war means,” she said.

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