At age five, Sam Compton learned that his father had been killed in a plane crash over South Dakota. Ever since, Sam’s only recollection of Staff Sergeant Samuel Logan Compton, Sr. was of the faceless man who put him to bed one moment and left for World War II the next: “I had not been able, in my mind, to know that I had looked my father in the face, and that had always bothered me.”
Sam and his wife Carolyn visited the Nashville StoryBooth on Wednesday, July 16. During their conversation, Sam explained how his 1996 investigations into his father’s death eventually led to a better understanding of the crash and an air show at Ellsworth Air Force Base in honor of Sam’s father and crew.
In his interview, Sam described the “wave of peace” that came over him when he visited his father’s crash site at Ellsworth: “I shut my eyes and all of the sudden, in my mind’s eye, I could see a pilot standing atop that hill with a five year old boy… While I could not look at the face of my father, I feel the blessings [that] came to me to give me a connection and give me a release. I truly believed that I was blessed.”
In the course of their investigation, Sam and Carolyn were contacted by a woman whose father had attended gunnery school with Sam’s father. An artist, Samuel Logan Compton, Sr. sketched the following caricature into his fellow airman’s graduation book using the pen name “Leroy.” Sam now keeps a copy of this sketch in memory of his father.