"Sam tells me his tight knit military family is strong and hanging together to face their time of grief," Good Morning America senior executive producer Jim Murphy wrote in an e-mail to the show's staff Tuesday that was posted to the show's Web site. "Please give your thoughts and prayers to Sam and his family."
Added Murphy in the note, "He was better known to us as Sam Champion's dad. Sam, his sister Teresa and his mom, Sylvia, were all together with the Lt. Col. at the end."
James H. Champion was born Dec. 26, 1934, in Paducah, Ky., to B.F. "Jack" and Josephine Champion. During his military career, Champion was deployed to the Republic of Vietnam in 1968 and 1969 and participated in combat operations during the 1968 Tet Offensive. His combat decorations included the Bronze Star (two awards), the Combat Action Ribbon and the Presidential Unit Citation (two awards), ABC reports.
Lt. Col. Champion is survived by his wife of 53 years Sylvia (Murphy) Champion, son Samuel James Champion, daughter Teresa Champion, son-in-law John Quigley, grandchildren Sydney and James Quigley.