ContraCosta Times July 26, 2006
Oceana County native killed in Iraq
HESPERIA, Mich. - A native of a small town in west Michigan has died while fighting in Iraq.
Army Spc. Dennis K. Samson Jr., 24, of Hesperia in Oceana County, was killed Monday by enemy gunfire in Taqaddum, the U.S. Department of Defense announced Wednesday. He was assigned to the 4th Brigade Troop Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, at Fort Campbell, Ky.
Samson is survived by his mother, Dawn Ackley, of Hesperia, and his father, Dennis Samson Sr., of Seattle. His mother declined to comment Wednesday, The Muskegon Chronicle reported.
Samson, a 2000 graduate of Hesperia High School, was described as a kind person and a "free spirit" who excelled in cross country, his coach said.
"He was a four-year varsity runner for us," Doug Baird told the newspaper. "He worked very hard at our workouts. He was the type of kid you wanted on your team.
"He had a smile on his face. He was up to the challenge. It didn't matter how hard the workout would be. He was Native American and had this jet black hair about shoulder length. He would come bouncing along into practice, hair blowing in the wind. That's how I'll remember him," Baird said.
"It's a tragedy that we lost him so early."
Harris Funeral Home in Shelby was handling arrangements for Samson, which were incomplete Wednesday.