Samuel E. Mays
Biography: Samuel Edwin Mays was born on October 21, 1905, in Plant City, Florida. He was the son of Samuel Edward Mays and Rowena Lee Evers and graduated from Plant City High School. He continued his education at the Norman Institute in Norman Park, Georgia, and the Florida Military Academy in Green Cove Springs, FL. He attended the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL, and received an appointment to West Point. While at the school, he participated in football all four years and was a member of the Sigma Nu fraternity as well as a rifle marksman. He graduated on June 13, 1929, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant.
We are not sure of his first assignment but by April 16, 1930, he was stationed at Fort Screven, Georgia, and serving with the 1st Battalion of the 8th Infantry Division.
On June 6, 1931, he married the former Ruth Elizabeth Blackman, who was born in Mount Vernon, New York, and was the daughter of Edgar Blackman and Juno Taylor. The new couple would have three sons, Samuel Jr., born in 1932, Albert in 1935, James in 1938 and daughter Juno in 1940.
Samuel was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in March of 1935, and was still at Fort Screven in April of that same year. Early in 1936, he graduated from the Infantry School’s Regular Course No. 36 at Fort Benning, Georgia, and then on July 3rd he traveled to Puerto Rico on assignment aboard the troop ship USAT Chateau Thierry. He would remain in Puerto Rico until shipping home on the same ship, arriving on June 27th, 1938. In April of 1939, he was stationed at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, and serving with the 34th Infantry Division. On June 13, 1939, he was promoted to Captain and in April of 1940, he was still at Fort Meade and still with the 34th Inf. Div. The next year, on October 10, 1941, he was promoted to Major.
Service Time: The first record we have of now Lt. Col. Mays during WWII was his assignment to command the 893rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. The 893rd came from the 93rd Infantry Division and was made up of the Division’s Antitank Battalion, which was re-designated on December 15, 1941, at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland. We do not know if Mays had a connection to the 93rd Infantry or if his presence at Fort Meade had any connection to his new appointment.
The 893rd were the first troops to arrive at Camp Hood, Texas, and initially served as school troops when they arrived in March of 1942. In early 1943, they moved to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, to participate in the Louisiana Maneuvers. The 893rd shipped out from the New York port on January 9, 1944, arriving at Liverpool, England, on January 20, 1944.
The photo above left is Samuel while a student at West Point. The photo on the right shows him as a young Infantry officer.
The unit moved to the southern coast area of England for hard training as they prepared to move to France. On the night of July 1st, the men boarded troopships and landed at Omaha beachhead equipped with M10 tank destroyers. They were committed to battle in the vicinity of St. Jean de Daye and advanced to Paris by August 25th and then to the Siegfried Line in the Schnee Eifel. The unit fought in the Hürtgen Forest in November, supporting the 28th Infantry Division’s disastrous assault on Schmidt and remained there when the division was replaced.
Lt. Col. Mays left the unit on November 23rd and took command of the 3rd Tank Destroyer Group, which was in support of the V Corps and acted as their Anti-Tank Section. They had moved into Belgium on September 9th and then back into Luxembourg later that same month. Now under May’s command, they moved back into Belgium on Oct. 4, 1944, and then into Germany on February 26, 1945. Earlier that month, on the 15th, Mays was promoted to Colonel and the unit moved into Czechoslovakia on May 8, 1945.
The unit shipped back to the U.S., arriving in New York on February 21, 1946, and was deactivated the next day, the 22nd, at Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. Samuel was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for Meritorious Service on January 23, 1945, and received the Purple Heart for wounds he sustained in November of 1944.
Samuel remained in the military and received the permanent rank of Lt. Colonel on July 1, 1948. On August 14, 1950, he transferred to the Armored Forces and would have assignments during the Korean War, serving in the Headquarters of the AFFE (Armed Forces Far East) 8000th AU. He retired from the military on June 30, 1955, and received an Oak Leaf Cluster for his Bronze Star Medal and the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster. He held the rank of Colonel at his retirement.
He was a member of the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Baptist Church. Samuel passed away on February 22, 1967, and was buried in the East Oaklawn Cemetery in Plant City, FL. Thank you to Paul Stevens for information on Samuel and thank you to Find A Grave contributor Ferris Waller for the use of the grave marker image.