Friday, September 16, 2011

From the greatest generation: Fr Badass
Of course the old religion produced him
Father Francis L. Sampson was a Catholic priest who served in WWII as the chaplain for the famous 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division – a U.S. Army paratrooper unit that wound up being one of the key groups to drop on Normandy on D-Day as part of Operation Overlord.

He wasn’t expected to participate in the fighting because naturally he didn’t carry any form of weapon (with the exception of a crucifix, which only works on vampires), so he found a small frontline aid station and began ministering to the wounded. When American units in the area came under attack and had to retreat, the wounded who couldn’t be moved had to be left behind. Sampson decided to stay with them, where, despite absurd amounts of danger, he continued to tend to the injured soldiers.

Unfortunately for everyone, some of the German troops who took over the aid station were Waffen SS and they, being despicable cockholes at the best of times, decided to put Sampson up against a wall and shoot him.

Fortunately, a German Army non-commissioned officer saw what was going on and rescued Sampson, taking him to an intelligence post, ostensibly for interrogation. There he was found to be a priest and therefore not someone the Germans really needed to be threatened by. They let him go, at which point he ran away to join the Allies ... oh, no, wait. He calmly returned to the Nazi-occupied aid station, where he went back to administering to the wounded. The wounded, by the way, now included lots of Germans, to whom he ministered all the same.

After the aid station was retaken, Sampson heard of an American soldier whose three brothers had all been reported killed in the same week (although one was actually a POW and survived the war). Moving quickly, he instigated the search for the fourth brother, Fritz Niland. Sampson went out, found him and brought him back to Utah Beach, where he was evacuated back to the States. Does that story sound familiar? It should, because it served as the plot for “Saving Private Ryan,” where the part of Father Sampson was played by an entire squad of rangers.

Sampson went on to jump with the 101st in Holland later that year, where he was captured again and spent the rest of the war in captivity. Then he got out and ... went right back to war, jumping into Korea. When that was over and Vietnam came along, he was of course on board for that, too, taking the position of Chief of Chaplains.

What the hell was he going to do, stay home?
From Cracked.

As much as I like this generation and the ’40s, this is WWII in one picture:

‘I went through all that just to hand half of Catholic Europe to somebody worse?!’

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