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Relatives of Vietnam War casualty are tracked down in Royal Oak

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ROYAL OAK, Mich. (AP) — The family of a Michigan man killed in the Vietnam War who was honored at a recent memorial has been found.

The National Security Agency honored the late Sgt. Robert Townsend at the Memorial Wall in Fort Meade, Maryland, on May 29. About 20 of Townsend’s relatives were in attendance, the Daily Tribune (Royal Oak) reported.

They learned of the special honor thanks to 74-year-old Vietnam veteran Lonnie Long, who searched for Townsend’s surviving children for the memorial and contacted the newspaper in March.

The story caught the attention of Townsend’s surviving daughter, Katheryn Mitchell.

“I always knew he was special to us and our family,” Mitchell said of her father at the ceremony. “But now, to have it acknowledged, it’s kind of made him come back to life again … I know that he is here in spirit along with my mom. They are standing right here next to me.”

The Intelligence and Security Command’s History Department had asked Long and Gary Blackburn to look for Townsend’s family. Long and Blackburn wrote a book about the Army Security Agency and Vietnam.

The Army Security Agency operated from 1945 to 1976. Its soldiers were trained in military intelligence and tracked and interpreted military communications.

“He would have been a bright young man,” Long said. “He would have tested in the top 10 percent of all the recruits in the U.S. Army.”

Townsend joined the army after graduating from Royal Oak High School in 1954, according to Long. Townsend married Mary Edwards, with whom he had three children.

Townsend is listed on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C.

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