2013-05-31 / Front Page

Veteran reflects on service, sacrifice

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer


Today 90-yearold Alan Sampson leads a quiet life at Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living Facility, but for a year during World War II, Sampson served his country as a communication specialist aboard a picket ship in the Pacific. Sampson, and his team, were tasked with warning Naval fleets when the Japanese were approaching. (Michael Kelley photo) Today 90-yearold Alan Sampson leads a quiet life at Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living Facility, but for a year during World War II, Sampson served his country as a communication specialist aboard a picket ship in the Pacific. Sampson, and his team, were tasked with warning Naval fleets when the Japanese were approaching. (Michael Kelley photo) As the Scarborough community spent a day off from work and school under blue skies and clouds on Memorial Day, Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living facility resident, Alan Sampson hopes everyone took a moment to remember the true meaning of the holiday — to honor and remember those men and women who were killed while serving their country.

“I hope they just remember we served our country well,” said Sampson, 90, who has been living at Scarborough Terrace since last fall.

Sampson is one of several veterans who are now living at Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living Facility.

“I am grateful to know so many veterans that have served our country here at Scarborough Terrace,” said Elizabeth Simonds, marketing manager at Scarborough Terrace. “It is so important for us to remember that we have the freedoms we do because of their service and sacrifice.”

Sampson, who grew up in Weymouth, Mass., was eager to serve his country and enlisted in the Navy in 1943 — his junior year at Tufts University. After graduating with a degree in engineering from Tufts, Sampson headed to Chicago, where he underwent 90 days of training to be a naval officer.

Sampson, who was single at the time, felt enlisting in the military was the right thing to do to help the United States win World War II.

“I was very interested in serving. I wanted to be in the Navy and not the Army,” Sampson said.

“I was always led by the water and thought I would like the ocean better than the trenches.”

Upon completing the training in Chicago, Sampson was sent to Miami for six weeks of fighter director training.

In late 1944, Sampson, a Naval lieutenant, was shipped to the Pacific theater where he was stationed at Pearl Harbor. Sampson served as a member of the Air Support Control Unit, a group of two officers and six enlisted men that was assigned to a picket ship destroyer. Sampson said the picket ships, which were armed, were sent 60 miles in front of the naval fleet to warn the sailors the Japanese, and their kamikaze pilots, were coming.

Although his ship was never attacked by a kamikaze pilot, the threat was always there.

“If the Japanese would have gone past the picket ships, they could have raised some hell,” Sampson said.

Since the picket ship was the first ship enemy fighter pilots found, often times they were the first target struck.

“This guy was going to give his life for his country no matter what, so they zoned in on the picket ships,” Sampson said.

Sampson said he and his men were preparing to invade Kyushu, the southernmost Japanese island. That plan was aborted when the Japanese surrendered and the war ended in September 1945.

After the war, Sampson came back to Massachusetts and worked at the United Shoe Machine Corporation as a shoe machinery designer and retired in 1985 after 38 years with the company.

Sampson bought a condominium and retired to Falmouth before moving into Scarborough Terrace Assisted Living facility in October when he had a stroke and could no longer drive.

Sampson was expecting to spend the Memorial Day holiday by having dinner with his family in Scarborough.

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