Profiles in Courage: Sam Pollard
By: Warhawk Air Museum
Posted On: July 21, 2023
A Prior Commitment
In an assembly held at Parma High School on Veterans Day in 2005, an older gentleman, age 84, sat in the front row wearing an American flag stars and stripes tie. The high school was honoring various veterans, and this veteran in particular was finally receiving his high school diploma. He missed his high school graduation when he was a teenager because of a prior commitment—he was overseas in Europe fighting for his country during World War II.
Sam Pollard was born in Roswell, Idaho on February 20, 1921. Roswell is a town just a few miles from Parma, Idaho. In 1942, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served overseas in Europe for three years during World War II. While overseas, Sam Pollard participated in five invasions, including D-Day (Sam’s division going in by boat from the Straits of Gibraltar) and the Anzio Beachhead (where Germans held the Allies for four months before they could get through). It was while Sam was in Italy in May 1944 that his actions led to a Distinguished Service Cross.
Sam was with the 7th Army Infantry, 3rd Division Company F, and on May 23, 1944, at 5:45 AM, the Americans attacked the German defense on the outskirts of the beachhead of Cisterna di Littoria, Italy. There were 995 American casualties, but they continued on through Cisterna di Littoria, moving through the rubble and debris of the war-torn town. On the night of May 25, at the age of 23, Sergeant Sam Pollard and his comrades captured over 100 German soldiers.
How to Capture Over 100 German Soldiers in One Night
Sam Pollard was a mortar section leader and had organized a patrol crew of nine men to clean out sniper nests on a street of houses in Cisterna di Littoria. Each house could potentially hide multiple snipers, but Sam and his crew needed to move forward. Giving instructions to his men to cover him, Sam charged into the first house with his Thompson sub-machine gun and came out with four prisoners.
Sam continued raids on each house on that street, taking more and more enemy soldiers as prisoners. He dodged enemy fire from machine guns, machine pistols, and rifles at point-blank range whenever he was exposed. Still, he continued forward, firing back. Then he got to the last house on the street.
Heavy enemy fire was coming from the last house, but Sam was determined. He charged through about 20 yards of open space, leaving himself very much exposed. He made it to the house and slipped inside through a hole in the wall, where he found three wounded German soldiers, but the house was still not empty.
Putting a new magazine into his weapon, Sam fired through an open doorway, moved upstairs, and managed to take 20 more soldiers prisoner. These enemy soldiers were handed over to the guards, but still, Sam was not done. Leading a group of four men, they swept the street again and once again, they arrived at that last house. In a ditch nearby, he spied three enemy soldiers disappearing into a tunnel. Sam and his men had no idea what was waiting for them in that tunnel, but Sam approached, alone, and fired into it. He demanded those in the tunnel surrender, and they did—all 107 of them.
By the end of the day, Sam had captured a total of 134 enemy soldiers (six of whom were officers) with no casualties amongst his men and only two wounded.
A Lifetime of Learning
Following his night of heroics, Sam returned to a rest camp in Santa Barbara, California where he planned to marry a woman named Evelyn Young. Sam was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army on July 3, 1945. He spent 20 years in the volunteer fire department in Parma, Idaho and 15 years as part of the municipal ambulance crew as an emergency medical technician. In 1950, he started a job as a part-time clerk for the Parma Post Office as Assistant to the Postmaster. In 1963, he became a rural carrier and retired on December 26, 1980.
Fast forward to the year 2005. Sergeant Sam Pollard sat in a Veterans Day assembly at Parma High School, listening to School Superintendent Jim Norton tell his story. He regretted not being a part of his high school graduation or receiving his diploma. On November 11, 2005, Samuel Wilford Pollard finally received an honorary high school diploma that reads:
“Awarded for personal sacrifices and devoted service to the United States. This diploma acknowledges a lifetime of learning and achievement that has enriched the State of Idaho and our country.”
Sergeant Sam Pollard passed away on February 16, 2009 at the age of 87 and is buried in Roswell, Idaho. He and Evelyn had been married for 64 years and had two daughters and one son.
Well done, Soldier.
Sam Pollard’s collection is on display at the museum along with many other interesting and inspiring stories.
- Chapel, Dakan Funeral. “Samuel Wilford Pollard.” Tribute for Samuel Wilford Pollard, www.dakanfuneralchapel.com/tributes/Samuel-Pollard. Accessed 29 June 2023.
- “Sam Pollard’s bravery in World War II noted.” The Watch on The Rhine. Volume 66, Number 6. June 1985: n. pag. Rpt. in Area person’s bravery in World War II recalled. Contributed by Kirby, K. E. and Thacker, Vester
- “Samuel Wilford ‘Sam’ Pollard Sr. (1921-2009) -...” Find a Grave, www.findagrave.com/memorial/37588320/samuel-wilford-pollard. Accessed 29 June 2023.
- “Sgt. Sam Pollard Has Taken Part in Five Major Invasions: Spends Four Months in Tunisian Campaign and Later Was With Army That Invaded Sicily; Recommened for Distinguished Service Medal .” 12 Oct. 1944.
- Strickler, Karen, and Christina Harris . “Parma Schools Pay Tribute to Sam Pollard At Veterans Day Assembly .”