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This page is dedicated to Otis L. Sampson, Mortar Sergeant, E Company 505


Otis Sampson, 82d Airborne: On 6 June 1944, then Sgt Sampson, jumped into Normandy as part of the 82d Airborne Division spearhead ahead of the seaborne invasion. Otis Sampson had joined the Army as a teenager in the 1930's as a horse cavalryman-a point he always mentioned as the reason he was able to endure Airborne training. He bought himself out of the cavalry for $85 when they became mechanized and joined the Airborne after Pearl Harbor because he wanted to be with the best in addition to the extra $50 a month he received in jump pay. He earned it. Sgt Sampson participated in all four combat jumps-Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Nijmegen. Along the way, he collected a Bronze Star with V for Valor and two Purple Hearts. Gen Gavin, the Commanding General of the 82d, recognized him as the "best mortar platoon Sgt in the Division." Sgt Sampson personally played the infantry mortar like a finely tuned instrument and was instrumental in stopping numerous German counter-attacks.

On the morning of the 6th of June, just North of St Mere Eglise, the key objective of the 82d on D Day, Sgt Sampson personally scouted the German positions threatening the extended American line and engaged with mortars an overwhelmingly numerical enemy force about to attack and rupture the tenuous toe hold the 82d had achieved. The extreme accuracy of his platoon's response brokeup the German counter-attack and preserved the position. Additionally, Sgt Sampson, with his ever-present Thompson sub-machine gun, personally cleared several hedgerows of the German remnants.

The battalion commander, Major Ben Vandervoort, requested a Silver Star for Sgt Sampson but it was lost and never awarded. Sgt Sampson was discharged at the end of the war and as part of "The Greatest Generation," took up civilian life, raised a family and reaped the rewards for which he fought so hard and so well.

The above was from the Gavin Chapter of the 82nd Airborne Division Association.

The following picture and some of the text was from The Northern California Living History Organization

In Otis's words: "This picture was taken in Ste. Mere Eglese (Normandy) when a couple of tanks finally broke loose to us and we made our advance hitting the Germans on the outskirts of the city, wiping most of them out. The 60mm mortar played a big part in that battle. (German positions were held by the 2nd Battalion of the 1058th Regiment) The German shelter under my arm had been to cover the back of my 1st gunner, Harry G. Pickels who was just getting over a bad case of malaria, but insisted he would make the jump if he had to crawl out the door on his hands and knees".
Otis L. Sampson was the oldest man in E Company; born in 1911. He was a contributor to the unpublished 500-page manuscript titled "Echoes of the Warriors" a history of "E" Company; compiled and edited by George Jacobus. Otis wrote a book about his experiences called Time Out For Combat.

    

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