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501st Heroes
MGen Chaplain Sampson
501st PIR, 505th PIR
82nd & 101st Airborne Divisions

The 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions that landed in Normandy on D-Day met intense opposition.  Chaplain Sampson spent that first day at the regimental aid station in a large farmhouse, the fighting became so intense that the regiment moved its headquarters away to a safer location. 

The medics and Chaplain Sampson stayed with the wounded who could not be moved. Chaplain Sampson was taken prisoner by two soldiers of the Waffen SS, and put up against a wall to be shot. Rescued at the last minute by a German noncommissioned officer who turned out to be a Catholic, Chaplain Sampson was escorted to a nearby German intelligence post where he was interrogated, found harmless and then released. 

Chaplain Sampson was later awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the nation’s second highest American military award, for his actions in Normandy. He was also the chaplain who was instrumental in returning Pvt. Nyland home when his 3 brothers were reported KIA after D-Day

Chaplain Sampson jumped into Holland, where he was nearly captured for a second time.  By early December 1944, the 101st was  involved in the Battle of the Bulge.  Sampson was taken prisoner the day after the 326th Medical Company was captured. He was sealed in a train for six days without food or water, and the train was also attacked at intervals by American aircraft.  Imprisoned in Stalag II A, Chaplain Sampson at his request was allowed to remain in the enlisted men’s prison, rather than the officer’s prison. 

In October 1945, Chaplain Sampson returned to the United States and went back to teaching High School.  He returned to active duty in July 1946, as regimental chaplain with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division. He participated in jumps in Korea and became Chief of Chaplains by the time of the Vietnam War. He retired a Major General.

Chaplain Sampson once said…
"In civilian life many people misunderstand the military mission.  I have spoken at various universities and have been challenged by this misunderstanding.  I have been asked how I can wear the uniform which symbolizes war and also wear the cross upon it symbolizing peace.  One would think that they should find the answer to the very question they proposed — for such questioners are of lofty academic standards, positions and responsibilities.
    It is very easy for me to tell them that, by law and statute, the mission of the military of the United States is, first, to preserve peace. Second, to provide for the security of our country, its borders and internal security.  And third, to implement national policy as it pertains to peace treaties with friendly nations which of themselves cannot repel the aggression of avaricious neighbors.
    I see nothing in this mission that does not appeal to the highest ideals of any man — regardless of his religion.  Indeed, it was Cardinal O’Neal, the great Churchman, who once said if he had not been a priest he most certainly would have had to be a soldier, because they are both called to the identical things — that is — the preservation of peace, the establishment of justice when it has been lost, and the providing of security with protection for the weak and the innocent."

His words are a fitting testimonial to a memorable thirty-year career as both soldier and chaplain.

Excerpts from the US Army Chaplain Center and School, http://www.usachcs.army.mil/