Teddy Hollis Sanford was born in a one room cabin at the family farm North of Skedee in Pawnee County, Oklahoma on December 31, 1907. He was the fourth son of John Thomas Sanford (1856-1919) and Cora Endicott Sanford (1878-1965). At the age of 15, Teddy joined the local company of the National Guard as a private. By the time he was 21, he was the company first sergeant and applied for a commission which he received as a second lieutenant in 1931.
In the same year that he was commissioned, 1931, he married Cora Juanita Kelley (1908- ). At the time, both were struggling to get through Oklahoma A@M University (now Oklahoma State University) at the depths of the Great Depression. Cora was the daughter of Walter E. Kelley (1886-1955) and Katherine Humphrey Kelley (1885-1980). They often had to stay out of school for a semester to work and it was not until 1936 that Teddy received his bachelors degree in business administration - he was by this time 28 years old.
Meanwhile, he had remained in the National Guard, but was still a second lieutenant. Under the rules of the time, you could only be promoted into a vacancy in your unit. This meant that Teddy stayed a second lieutenant for over nine years. However, these years were not wasted. He learned the arts and skills of leadership which would become so important in the years to come.
In September of 1940, now a first lieutenant, and commanding the local Company B, 179th Infantry Regiment, he, along with the unit, were mobilized and he stayed with the unit through the Lousiana maneuvers in 1941. In 1942, however, Teddy transferred from the 45th Division to the 82nd Division. On August 15, 1942, this became the first US airborne division. His wife, Cora, came down to visit Teddy at Camp Clairborne, Louisiana on the day of the activation, and she gave birth to their first son early the next morning. Teddy H. Sanford, Jr. became the first child born into an airborne division in World War II.
After almost a year of training, the 82nd Airborne Division landed at Casablanca in North Africa in the Summer of 1943, and the division began planning for the invasion of Sicily. The division participated in the fight for Sicily, and then went on to fight in Italy. Teddy rose in rank during this period to Major and on several occassions served as battalion commmander of the 1st Battalion, 325 Glider Infantry Regiment due to the loss of the commander.
In late 1943 and early 1944, the 82nd moved to Ireland and then England as it prepared to participate in the invasion of Europe. On June 6, 1944, the 325th landed by glider in the hedgerows of Normandy, taking heavy casualties during the landing. Soon, Teddy found himself in command of the 1st Battlion once again. He led the unit in the crossing of the Merderet River where they joined in close fighting with units of the German Army. After 31 straight days of combat, the unit was withdrawn. Of over 800 officers and men, the 1st Battalion was down to 5 officers and 216 enlisted men. Teddy was now a lieutenant colonel and in command of the battlion.
The 82nd, after refitting and training in England, once again flew into combat during the Battle for the Bridges. The 1st Battalion, 325th Infantry landed by glider, and was responsible for holding the bridges until a land force link up by British XXX Corps. Once again, the airborne troops held their positions although the overall results of the operation were mixed with the near extinction of British 1st Airborne Division at Arnham.
After the battle, the 325th returned to France, and Teddy became the regimental executive officer. However, when the Germans counterattacked in the Ardennes in December of 1944, the whole division was called upon to stop the Germans. Teddy Sanford was in command of the division rear guard that provided the time for the rest of the division to take up strong positions from which the Germans could not dislodge them for the remainder of the battle known to history as the "Battle of the Bulge".
After the "Bulge" the decision in Europe was not in doubt. The 82nd pushed across the Rhine River into Germany and liberated several concentration camps prior to VE Day. When the war was over, Lieutenant Colonel Teddy Sanford was selected to bring the first contingents of the division home. This honor was afforded him because he had spent more days in combat than any other member of this famous division in World War II.
When the war ended, Teddy Sanford made the decision to integrate into the Reular Army. With a Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart, the Army was happy to keep him. His second son, Thomas Kelley Sanford was born in January 1947, and he went to the Command and General Staff College in 1947-1948. He then had several assignments in the 82nd Airborne Division, now back at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was promoted to Colonel in 1950 and became the regimental commander of the 504th Airborne Infantry Regiment.
In 1953, Teddy was ordered to Korea to become the G4 of 8th US Army, however, when his plane landed in Japan, Major General A. D. Meade met him and pinned on him the star of a brigadier general. He then stayed in Japan and became the Assistant Division Commander of the 1st Cavalry Division. After this assignment, he became the Commanding General of the Central Command in Tokyo where, effectively, he was the mayor of this giant city. He then moved to Sendai, Japan where he became the Chief of Staff of the IX Corps, and later became the Commanding General of the 508th Airborne Regimental Combat Team in Beppu, Japan.
After a three year tour as the Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics at the US Army Continental Army Command at Fort Monroe, Virgina, he recieved a promotion to Major General and in 1959 became the Commanding General of the 7th Infantry Division in Korea. He went from this assignment to Hawaii where he became the Assistant Chief of Staff for Logistics for US Army Pacific and helped plan the support for the Vietnam War. In 1964, he was transferred to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas where he became the Commanding General of XIX US Army Corps. From this assignment, he retired in 1967 after serving in the Army for 44 years. His awards included the Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal, Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Combat Infantry Badge, Glider Badge, Airborne Badge, the Orange Lanyard and Bronze Lion from the Netherlands; both the French and the Belgium Fouraguerre; the Croix de Guerre from France; the Taguk from the Republic of Korea; and the Order of the Rising Sun which was presented to him by the Emperor of Japan. When he returned to Oklahoma, he also recieved the Oklahoma Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award the state has to offer.
After his service, he returned to his ranch North of Pawnee, Oklahoma where he raised cattle for many years. He built the family home less than 100 yards from the little cabin where he was born. During these years, he remained active and served on many state boards. He was elected to the Hall of Fame at Oklahoma State University. After a long and active life, he died on December 29, 1992, just two days before his 85th brithday. He is buried in the Highland Cemetery at Pawnee.
In the event that Joel Orcutt cannot be reached, please e-mail Robert Fender