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Kentucky National Guard Memorial

Honoring Their Sacrifice

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Sanders, Roger M. (P2, C4, L6)

sanders roger hs yearbook pixCaptain Roger Moss Sanders, 31, of Louisville, Jefferson County, Kentucky, died on 14 September 1971 when the RF-101 “Voodoo” he was piloting crashed shortly after takeoff during inactive duty for training. He was able to eject but did not survive his injuries from the incident. Sanders was taking off simultaneously with another aircraft as part of a night refueling exercise. The other aircraft landed safely in Indiana.

Sanders was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. His family moved to Frankfort, Kentucky where he graduated from Frankfort High School. Sanders attended the University of Kentucky graduating with a Bachelor of Science in civil engineering in 1962. While at UK he spent two years in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC). He also attended one year of law school. Sanders reported his civilian occupation as bridge design engineer and later as a manager with Bell Telephone Company.

Sanders enlisted in the Kentucky Air National Guard in January of 1964 as photo helper rising to the rank of Airman 3rd Class before he accepted a commission as an officer in February 1965 when he began training as a pilot. He joined the 165th as a Recon Pilot in June 1966. Sanders served on federal active duty with his unit during the Pueblo Crisis from January 1968 to June 1969, which included duty in Korea from January through April of 1969. At the time of his death he was a Captain and a pilot in the 165th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.

Hroger_sandersis awards and decorations include the National Defense Service Medal, Air Force Expeditionary Medal and the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award. Sanders is buried at Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville at Section 26 Lot: 97- Grave: 4.

    Ejected Pilot Killed

    Lexington Herald, 15 September 1971, p. 2.

    Louisville, Ky. (AP)—A 31-year-old Kentucky Air National Guard pilot was killed Tuesday evening when his small F-101 reconnaissance jet crashed and burned on a runway just after takeoff from Standiford Field here.

    The victim was identified as Capt. Roger Sanders of Louisville, the only occupant of the craft.

    Air National Guard officials said Sanders ejected from the jet at a low altitude and was killed upon impact with the ground, just as his parachute opened. The jet crashed on a runway about 500-1,000 feet from the body, officials said.

    An Air Force officer at the field said Sanders’ craft may have collided with another jet taking part in a routine mid-air refueling mission. The second craft landed safely at Grissom Air Base, Peru, Ind., where the pilot was being questioned.

    Both jets were from the 123rd tactical reconnaissance group based at Standiford.

    Airport officials said Sanders’ death marked the first fatal military aircraft crash at the field.


    Board Says Bump Cause of Fatal Plane Crash

    Lexington Herald, 2 October 1971, p. 19.

    Louisville, Ky. (AP)— An investigation board reported Friday that the fatal crash of a Kentucky Air National Guard jet was caused by a bump with another plane as both took off at Standiford Field.

    The accident Sept. 14 killed Capt. Roger M. Sanders who ejected from his aircraft at what was believed to be ground level. His parachute then failed.

    Col. Verne Yahne, base commander, said that after Sanders took off, his plane was overtaken by the second jet “without sufficient wingtip clearance, resulting in contact … at a critical state of flight, causing the accident.”

    The other aircraft, piloted by Capt. Donald Ryan, 34, of the Guard, received minor damage to the left wingtip.

    No charges were made, Yahne said.

    The two-plane takeoffs and landings, made at runway speeds up to 200 miles an hour, are a required part of formation flying as set forth by the Air Force.

    Yahne said the bump is believed to have caused Sanders’ plane to go out of control a few feet above the ground. Its left wing hit the runway, the plane caught fire, and Sanders ejected.

    Investigators said they could find no malfunction in the ejection system.


The Kentucky National Guard Memorial Fund, Inc., is a recognized 501(c)(3). EIN 26-3705273

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