A leap year baby, Francis L. Sampson was born on February 29, 1912 in Cherokee Iowa.
A quarter of a century later he graduated from Notre Dame and made a bee-line for St. Paul’s Seminary at Saint Paul Minnesota. Ordained a priest for the Des Moines Iowa diocese on June 1, 1941, he served briefly as a parish priest at Neola, Iowa and taught at Dowling High School in Des Moines.
Eager to become a chaplain, as soon as he received permission from his Bishop Father Sampson enlisted in the United States Army in 1942. Always looking for a challenge, he became regimental chaplain of the 501st Parachute Regiment of the 101rst Airborne. In his memoirs, Look Out Below!, Father Sampson wrote about his joining a very tough branch of the service: