I created this profile of Admiral Sample as part of my research of the Battle Off Samar. Sample was the Commander of Carrier Division 27 assigned to Task Unit 77.4.2 (Taffy II). The little escort carriers (CVEs) he commanded were an intergal part of winning the war in the Pacific.
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William Dodge Sample was born in Buffalo, New York, on 9 March 1898.
He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1918.
During World War 1 he served aboard duty in USS HENDERSON (AP-1). For meritorious service during a fire on board that ship he received a letter of commendation from the Secretary of the Navy. Detached in August 1918,he served on several destroyers based at Queenstown, Ireland.
He remained in the European Waters Detachment after the end of World War 1.
In December 1921 he was transferred to the gunboat PAMPANGA (PG-39), on the Asiatic Station.
Attended flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator on 23 June 1923.
Saw duty in several observation squadrons in the mid to late 1920s.
Served on board the carriers SARATOGA (CV-3) and LEXINGTON (CV-2), commanding VF-5 on the latter.
During 1938 and 1939, he served in RANGER (CV-4).
After the outbreak of World War II, he assisted in the conversion of SANTEE (CVE-29). Assuming command of that escort carrier on its commissioning, he was awarded a letter of commendation for service during Operation Torch; the invasion of North Africa.
On 19 April 1944, he assumed command of INTREPID (CV-11).
In May 1944 he was transferred to the command of HORNET (CV-12) and in the ensuing months participated in operations in the Marianas and in strikes against the Volcano Islands.
Promoted to Rear Admiral and successively commanded Carrier Divisions 22 and 27.
Listed as missing on 2 October 1945 after his plane failed to return from a familiarization flight near Wakayama, Japan. Rear Admiral Sample was officially declared dead on 3 October 1946.
William Dodge Sample was the youngest rear admiral in the Pacific theater.
USS SAMPLE (FF-1048) was commissioned on March 23, 1968.
Chain of Command In LEXINGTON (CV-2) he commanded Fighter Squadron VF-5.
Other Memories The fourth USS Lexington (CV-2), nicknamed the "Gray Lady" or "Lady Lex", was an early aircraft carrier of the United States Navy. She was the name ship of the Lexington class.
She and her sister ship Saratoga were originally authorized in 1916 as battle cruisers of 35,300 tons with seven funnels and boilers disposed on two deck levels. After the war, and as a result of the lessons thereof, plans were to a large extent re-cast in 1919. Designated CC-1 and CC-3, they were laid down as smaller battle cruisers on 8 January 1921 by Fore River Shipbuilding Company, Quincy, Massachusetts.
Following the Washington Naval Conference, they were both redesignated and re-authorized to be completed as aircraft carriers on 1 July 1922. As such, they were reduced in displacement by 8,500 tons, achieved mainly by the elimination of eight 16 inch guns in four twin turrets (including mounts, armor, and so on). The main belt armor was retained, and the deck armor was heavily reinforced. The general lines of the hull remained unaltered, and the special system of underwater protection was adhered to. The flight deck was 880 feet (244m) long and 85 to 90 feet (25.9-27.4m) wide, mounted 60 feet (18.3m) above the waterline. The mean draught was 24 feet 1.5 inches (7.4m). The ships had a complement of 169 officers and 1730 men, including flying personnel. They carried eight 8 inch (203mm)/55 caliber guns, twelve 5-inch (127mm)/25 caliber anti-aircraft guns, and four 6-pounder (2.24-inch, 57mm) saluting guns. These two ships were the last two built with a transverse catapult as part of the original design. The catapult had a travel of 155 feet, and was strong enough to launch the heaviest naval aircraft then in existence within 60 feet (18.3m). As built, these two ships had cranes for launching and retrieving seaplanes and flying boats, a capability removed during the war and replaced by additional anti-aircraft guns. The ships were designed to carry a maximum of 120 aircraft of various types, including fighters, scouts, and bombers. Each ship cost a total of $45,000,000 with aircraft.
Lexington was launched 3 October 1925, sponsored by Mrs. Theodore Douglas Robinson (wife of the Assistant Secretary of the Navy), and commissioned 14 December 1927, Captain Albert W. Marshall in command.
Lexington and Saratoga had turboelectric drive with 16 Yarrow boilers powering four General Electric steam turbines spinning generators that powered the four slower speed main drive motors. Lexington's engines provided electricity to Tacoma, Washington for thirty days during a power shortage in the winter of 1929/1930.
1928-1941 After fitting out and shakedown, Lexington joined the Battle Fleet at San Pedro, California, 7 April 1928. Based there, she operated on the west coast with Aircraft Squadrons, Battle Fleet, in flight training, tactical exercises, and battle problems. Each year she participated in fleet maneuvers in Hawaii, in the Caribbean, off the Panama Canal Zone, and in the eastern Pacific. On trials, Lexington achieved an average speed of 30.7 knots, and maintained a speed of 34.5 knots for one hour
World War II
In the fall of 1941 she sailed with the battle force to the Hawaiians for tactical exercises.
On 7 December 1941 Lexington was at sea with Task Force 12 carrying marine aircraft from Pearl Harbor to reinforce Midway when word of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was received. She immediately launched search planes to hunt for the Japanese fleet, and at midmorning headed south to rendezvous with Indianapolis and Enterprise task forces to conduct a search southwest of Oahu until returning to Pearl Harbor on 13 December.
Lexington sailed next day to raid Japanese forces on Jaluit to relieve pressure on Wake Island; these orders were canceled 20 December, and she was directed to cover the Saratoga force in reinforcing Wake. When the island fell on 23 December, the two carrier forces were recalled to Pearl Harbor, arriving 27 December.
Lexington patrolled to block enemy raids in the Oahu¨CJohnston¨CPalmyra triangle until 11 January 1942, when she sailed from Pearl Harbor as flagship for Vice Admiral Wilson Brown commanding Task Force 11. On 16 February, the force headed for an attack on Rabaul, New Britain, scheduled for 21 February; while approaching the day previous, Lexington was attacked by two waves of enemy aircraft, nine planes to a wave. The carrier's own combat air patrol and antiaircraft fire shot down 17 of the attackers. During a single sortie, Lieutenant Edward O'Hare won the Medal of Honor by downing five planes.
Her offensive patrols in the Coral Sea continued until 6 March, when she rendezvoused with Yorktown's Task Force 17 for a thoroughly successful surprise attack flown over the Owen Stanley Mountains of New Guinea to inflict heavy damage on shipping and installations at Salamaua and Lae on 10 March. She then returned to Pearl Harbor, arriving 26 March.
Lexington's task force sortied from Pearl Harbor on 15 April, rejoining TF 17 on 1 May. As Japanese fleet concentrations threatening the Coral Sea were observed, Lexington and Yorktown moved into the sea to search for the enemy's force covering a projected troop movement; the Japanese had to be blocked in their southward expansion or sea communication with Australia and New Zealand would be cut, and the dominions threatened with invasion. The Battle of the Coral Sea was the result.
Battle of the Coral Sea
On 7 May, search planes reported contact with an enemy carrier task force. Lexington's air group sank the light carrier Sh¨h¨. Later that day, 12 bombers and 15 torpedo planes from still-unlocated heavy carriers Sh¨kaku and Zuikaku were intercepted by fighter groups from Lexington and Yorktown, which shot down nine enemy aircraft.
On the morning of the 8th, a Lexington plane located the Sh¨kaku group; a strike was immediately launched from the American carriers, and the Japanese carrier was heavily damaged.
Lexington burning during the Battle of the Coral SeaHowever, enemy planes penetrated the American defenses at 11:00, and 20 minutes later Lexington was struck by a torpedo to port. Seconds later, a second torpedo hit her portside directly abeam the bridge. At the same time, she took three bomb hits from enemy dive bombers, producing a 7 degree list to port and several raging fires. By 13:00, skilled damage control had brought the fires under control and restored her to an even keel; making 25 knots, she was ready to recover her air group. Then suddenly Lexington was shaken by a tremendous explosion, caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors below, and again fire raged out of control. At 15:58, Captain Frederick Carl Sherman, fearing for the safety of men working below, secured salvage operations, and ordered all hands to the flight deck. At 17:01, he ordered "abandon ship" and the orderly disembarkation began. Men going over the side into the warm water were almost immediately picked up by nearby cruisers and destroyers. Admiral Aubrey Wray Fitch and his staff transferred to the cruiser Minneapolis; Captain Sherman and his executive officer, Commander Morton T. Seligman ensured all their men were safe, then were the last to leave.
Lexington blazed on, flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air. Destroyer Phelps closed to 1500 yards and fired two torpedoes into her hull; with one last heavy explosion, Lexington sank at 19:56.