Samuel L. Mattison

COLUMBUS, OHIO

Samuel Mattison answered Uncle Sam’s call hoping a tour in the Army would make life a bit easier. Even before his mother died when he was nine years old, survival had been a daily test of wills for young Sam. Nellie Mattison’s death scattered her six children to orphanages in Columbus, Ohio. It was up to Sam to keep them all in contact and protect his older brother, Louieco Jr., who was impaired from a brain injury. He vowed never end up like his runaway father, Louieco Sr., whom he spotted one day foraging in a trash bin heaping with rotten vegetables. Mattison was driving a coal truck when he was drafted in March 1941, and while he wasn’t eager to fight for a country that he believed didn’t do right by his people, the military offered the stability he craved. And so Mattison found it particularly galling to discover an utter lack of order and respect where he most expected it. The constant racial slurs and petty abuse doled out by white Army officers left Mattison bitter and angry. “Black men ain't no men,” he said seven decades after the war. “We were like little dogs." 

Sam Mattison in 2010 Photo: Linda Hervieux

Sam Mattison in 2010
Photo: Linda Hervieux

Sam Mattison flips through photos of the barrage balloons and he flew in Tennessee, Britain and on Omaha Beach. Photo: Linda Hervieux

Sam Mattison flips through photos of the barrage balloons and he flew in Tennessee, Britain and on Omaha Beach.
Photo: Linda Hervieux

← Back to the Men of the 320th Gallery