Retired April 30, 1972. Died Dec. 25, 1990.
Major General Kenneth O. Sanborn is commander of the U.S. Air Forces Southern Command, with headquarters at Albrook Air Force Base, Canal Zone. USAFSO is the air component of the unified U.S. Southern Command.
General Sanborn was born in 1913, at Tamworth, N.H. He graduated from Proctor Academy in 1930 and attended the University of New Hampshire in 1931-32, majoring in electrical engineering. He received a congressional appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in 1933 and graduated in 1937 with a commission as an Infantry second lieutenant. He graduated from pilot training at Randolph Field, Texas, in October 1938, and attended the Bombing and Navigational School at Mitchel Field, N.Y., in 1939.
From 1939 to 1947, General Sanborn spent a total of only 11 months in the United States. The remainder of the time was spent in the Caribbean and Pacific theaters of operations. During World War II, he flew 69 combat missions, 62 of which were in B-18s and seven in B-29s. In 1945, as a group commander in the 315th Bombardment Wing on Guam, he was aircraft commander on one of four B-29s that made the first nonstop flight from Japan to Washington, D.C. The flight took 28 hours and 7 minutes. He witnessed the first atomic bomb test at Bikini in 1946.
From 1948 to 1952, General Sanborn served in the Pentagon, Washington, D.C. For two years he was a member of the Joint Strategic Plans Group for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. For the next two years he was executive officer for General Omar Bradley, U.S. Army, on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Military Committee.
In August 1952 he was appointed commander of Barksdale Air Force Base, La., and in November 1952 was named chief of staff, Second Air Force. In April 1954 General Sanborn became commander of the 306th Bombardment Wing at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., and in July 1954, he assumed command of the 6th Air Division.
In February 1956 General Sanborn was transferred to Plattsburgh Air Force Base, N.Y., where he commanded the 820th Air Division. In April 1958 he went to McConnell Air Force Base, Kan., and assumed command of the 434th Combat Crew Training Wing. He became commander of the newly activated 42nd Air Division in July 1959.
General Sanborn was at Taipei, Taiwan, from 1960 to 1965. There he held several important positions, including that of chief of the Military Assistance Advisory Group. In September 1965 he was assigned as chief of staff at Headquarters Air Force Logistics Command, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He assumed command of the U.S. Air Forces Southern Command in June 1968.
His military decorations include the Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters, Army Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and Purple Heart.