Gerald Hilbert Sampson

United States Marine Corps
23 May 1937 - 28 August 1969
Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Panel 18W Line 004

Navy Cross

Purple Heart, Good Conduct, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

USMC Parachutist

The database page for Gerald Hilbert Sampson

27 Apr 2005

My brother Gerald was a wonderful brother and a good son. My mother ended up raising my brother, sister, and me alone and Gerald always helped her with expenses and sent us lovely presents throughout our childhood. We all graduated from college and Gerald was our role model. He was our older brother and we will always feel a void over his death, but we are proud that he defended his country and was loyal to his men.

Sherri Stark

10 Aug 2005

"Captain Sam" was a good skipper and a great leader, he always went above above and beyond for his troops. I was in 1st Platoon, B Co 1/3 in 1969, I was medevaced on May 25th when we lost so many and I was the only one wounded. I will always remember, SEMPER FI and God bless.

From a member of his company,
Herbert T Casey Sr
W 3431 Vannoy Drive, Whitewater, Wi. 53190

01 Feb 2006

I'm glad to have found this web site. I served with "Captain Sam" in Bravo 1/3 and was serving as the Weapons Platoon commander and Executive Officer on August 28, 1969 when he was killed. This site fills in some of the blanks about his background. I've seldom gone a month without thinking about him and Bravo Company. I later commanded four rifle companies and used much of what he taught me about being a leader. My proudest moment as a Marine Officer is when he called me by my first name! A finer man and company commander never existed. I still celebrate Captain Sam every August 28 so that he will never be forgotten.

Semper Fi, Skipper.

From a member of his company,
Captain Steven Gugas

26 Sep 2007

I am his sister from North Carolina, my name is Mable Sampson. I work for the Pembroke Chamber of Commerce and along with the VFW Post of Pembroke we are doing a monument which we hope to have finanlized by Veteran's Day with the names of our hometown military on this monument.

Mable Sampson

Gerald H. Sampson
By Allison Williams
Staff writer

PEMBROKE - In the early morning hours of Aug. 28, 1969, Capt. Gerald H. Sampson was deep in the Vietnamese jungle. It was his third tour of duty, and Sampson instructed his men to set up camp for the night on an isolated hill. At the age of 32, his men considered him a veteran, a "lifer," who had joined the Marines when he was 17.

It had been a rough few months in Bravo Company. On May 25, an ammunition pallet exploded, killing at least 14 men. The experiences of Bravo Company, and Sampson, were later included in "The Grunts," a book written by Charles R. Anderson. By August, Sampson had seen just about everything. So when lookouts told him that North Vietnamese soldiers had been spotted nearby, he didn't give it much thought. And then there was gunfire.

Sampson ran toward the fighting. He continued to move from one position to another, instructing his men, and that's how "Captain Sam" was killed in the middle of the night, during a fierce battle that would last until dawn. Sampson later received the Navy Cross, the second-highest award for valor, and was remembered by his men and fellow officers as one of the best commanders they had ever seen.

But now, few remember. His name is on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, but it does not seem to appear on any state veterans' memorial, not in North Carolina, where he was born, or in Pennsylvania, his home state on record. He is buried in California. Sampson never married nor had children.

But a small group is working to make sure he is not forgotten. A sister in Pennsylvania maintains a website devoted to his memory. And another sister in North Carolina hopes to one day see her brother's name etched on another memorial. Mable Sampson was just a small child when her older brother left for the Marines. When he came home to Pembroke, he always drove a flashy sports car and seemed larger than life.

"I would see him in his uniform," she said, "and I would run and go hide."

Their father had been divorced from Gerald's mother and remarried. They had Mable. Gerald moved with his mother to Pennsylvania, where another sister, Sherri Stark, now lives and maintains a website about Gerald at But there are people who have fond memories of a boy growing up in Pembroke, hanging out at the spot known as the Sampson swimming hole.

They want to make sure a local hero is remembered. They began meeting for lunch this summer, swapping stories and old pictures. Pembroke Mayor Milton Hunt was a first cousin of Sampson's. Lumberton resident Delano Cummings is a veteran who also served in the Marines during the Vietnam War. And of course, there is Mable Sampson. At a recent lunch meeting, she passed around a photograph of her father that was taken at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego, where he buried his son.

She said her father blamed himself for Sampson's death - he was the one who gave permission for him to join the Marines before his 18th birthday. But Gerald thrived in the Marines, earning a high school diploma, studying at officers' school and joining the ranks of other military officers. Steven Gugas served with Sampson in Vietnam. Gugas says he came to respect Sampson more than any other Marine officer he has ever known. It is around this time of year, every year, that Gugas raises a glass to Sampson.

"I learned a lot from him about how to be a leader," Gugas said. "I don't think there was anybody who didn't totally respect him and feel safe with him. I lift a toast to him every August 28th, and it's been 35 years."

Too long, some say, to allow a local hero to be forgotten.

© Native Visions Magazine
Allison Williams
Reproduced under 17 USC �107

A Note from The Virtual Wall

Three Marines from Bravo 1/3 were killed in action, and nine others wounded, on 28 August 1969:
  • Capt Gerald H. Sampson, Williamsport, PA (Navy Cross);
  • 2ndLt Edward C. Hammerbeck, Arlington, VA; and
  • LCpl David T. Schaffer, Phoenix, AZ.
The Citation for Captain Sampson's Navy Cross describes what happened:

The President of the United States
takes pride in presenting the


posthumously to

United States Marine Corps

for service as set forth in the following


For extraordinary heroism while serving as Commanding Officer of Company B, First Battalion, Third Marines, Third Marine Division in connection with combat operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. In the early morning hours of 28 August 1969, Company B, occupying a night defensive position deep in hostile territory northwest of Cam Lo, was assaulted by a large North Vietnamese Army force employing automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades. In the initial onslaught, the second platoon commander was wounded and his sector of the perimeter was in grave danger of being breached by the enemy. With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Sampson moved across the fire-swept terrain to the point of heaviest contact, rallied the beleaguered Marines, and began to direct their fire against the advancing North Vietnamese. During the fierce fire fight, he continually moved from one fighting position to another, instructing and encouraging his men and ensuring that the wounded received immediate treatment. While maneuvering across an exposed area on the foremost edge of the perimeter, Captain Sampson was mortally wounded by enemy fire. His unflagging determination and bold fighting spirit inspired his men to heroic efforts and were instrumental in turning a critical situation into an overwhelming Marine victory. By his leadership, extraordinary courage and selfless devotion to duty, Captain Sampson upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.

2ndLt Hammerbeck was the Platoon Commander mentioned in the Citation.

Mr. Casey refers to an incident on 25 May 1969 when Bravo Company, 1/3 Marines, was holding a defensive position near Cam Lo (in Quang Tri Province just south of the DMZ). A pallet-load of 81mm mortar shells caught fire. The munitions exploded in spite of efforts to extinguish the blaze, killing at least 14 Marines; more may have died from injuries received. The force of the blast is evident by the fact that the bodies of two Marines known to be present could not be found. The names of the known dead can be found on the memorial for LCpl Paul Graff.

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Memorial first published on 27 Apr 2005
Last updated 08/10/2009