During the Leyte invasion, Rear Admiral Sample "desired a better view of operations" and decided to hitch a ride in a torpedo bomber. He lay in the "tunnel gun" position and observed through the window below the tail. The plane was hit by antiaircraft fire. Sample was severely cut on the head and shoulders. James C. Edinger, ARM3c, USNR, of Foxburg, Pennsylvania, came down from the "blister" where he was manning a .50 in (13 mm) machine gun, and applied first aid. Edinger said that it took them more than an hour to return to Marcus Island, during which he kept kicking Sample in the face with his foot to keep the Admiral from passing out. Sample was a big man: Edinger was afraid that if they ended up in the water, he wouldn't be able to get him out of the plane. Each time Sample would warn Edinger to make sure the .30 cal machine gun in the tail was empty. He was afraid that when they landed the gun would go off. Later, Sample explained to Edinger that he could see the headlines in the paper, "Admiral lands upon carrier: shoots hole in deck". According to the ship's surgeon, Commander Lee, "the excellence of Edinger's treatment helped prevent infection". Admiral Sample was awarded the Purple Heart, and at Sample's request, Edinger was promoted to Aviation Radio Man, Second Class.
On 2 October 1945, shortly after the war ended, Sample was listed as missing after his Martin PBM Mariner aircraft failed to return from a familiarization flight near Wakayama, Japan. Rear Admiral Sample was officially declared dead on 3 October 1946.
The remains of Sample, Capt. Charles C. McDonald of Suwannee (CVE-27), and the seven members of the flight crew were discovered in the wreckage of the aircraft on 19 November 1948, recovered, and returned to the United States to be interred together at ArlingtonNationalCemetery on 17 May 1949.