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

Otis Sampson, 82d Airborne Division:

On June 6th 1944, a then buck Sergeant Sampson, jumped into Normandy as part of the 82d Airborne Division's spearhead ahead of the 5,000 ship, seaborne invasion. Otis 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.

Staff Sergeant Otis Sampson, stateside 1945.

He joined the Airborne after Pearl Harbor because he wanted to be with the best, in addition to the extra $50 a month he received for jump pay. He earned it. Sergeant Sampson participated in all four combat jumps, Sicily, the Salerno beachhead, Italy, Normandy, France and Nijmegen, Holland.

Along the way, he collected a Bronze Star medal with V device (for Valor) and two Purple Heart medals. General Gavin, the Commanding General of the 82nd, recognized him as the "best mortar platoon Sgt in the Division." Sergeant Sampson personally played the infantry mortar like a finely tuned instrument and helped stop numerous German counter-attacks. On the morning of the 6th of June, just north of St Mere Eglise, the key objective of the 82nd on D Day, Sergeant Sampson personally scouted the German positions threatening the extended American line and engaged his mortars against an overwhelming numerical enemy force that was about to attack and rupture the tenuous hold the 82nd had achieved. The extreme accuracy of his platoon's response brokeup the German counter-attack and preserved the position. Additionally, Sergeant Sampson, with his ever-present Thompson sub-machine gun, personally cleared several hedgerows of German troops.

The battalion commander, Major Ben Vandervoort, requested a Silver Star for Sergeant Sampson but it was lost and never awarded. Otis 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 through 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 half under my arm had been used to cover 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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