Cotten Funeral Home


Billy Joe Sanders

July 25, 1923February 20, 2021

LCDR Billy J. Sanders 97, of New Bern, NC passed away on February 20, 2021 at his home. Bill was born in Claremore, OK on July 25, 1923 to the late Clinton and Susan Sanders.

Bill served his country during both World War II and the Korean War. He enlisted in the Navy in July of 1942. After completing his flight training he was assigned to Air Group 6 at NAS Barber Point HI. Later the air group was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Hancock, as well as being temporarily assigned to fly with the Marines of VMFN 534 to fly night missions off Guam.

After WWII he was flying for the Naval Reserves until February 1951, when he was recalled to active duty as a fighter pilot for the Korean War. During his service in the Korean War, he flew an F9F2 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Antietam. In 1952 he was flying over Wonsan Bay when he took damage from antiaircraft fire. Unable to return to the aircraft carrier, he diverted to an emergency landing strip about 5 miles from the front lines. This airstrip was operated by a Marine Corsair squadron, and with the help of some ingenious “Devil Dogs” he was able to repair his aircraft and return to the USS Antietam.

LCDR Sanders completed 149 combat missions and 400 carrier landings. During his service he earned the following medals and ribbons including an Air Medal with 4 Stars, Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon with 3 stars, Naval Reserve Ribbon, American Campaign Ribbon, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Ribbon with 3 stars, World War II Victory Ribbon, Navy Occupation Service Ribbon, Korean Service Ribbon with 2 stars and the United Nations Service Ribbon.

After his military career, Bill began his career in general contracting specializing in custom home development. One of his homes was for IBM president Thomas Watson. In his free time, Bill enjoyed ballroom dancing with his beloved wife Mary Adelaide, boating, fishing, and of course recreational flying. He also enjoyed playing piano and loved to do custom carpentry. He took pride in his Cherokee ancestry, his military service, and most of all his children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.

Bill is preceded in death by his parents, Clinton and Susan Sanders, beloved wife, Mary Adelaide Sanders, son, William Stockton Sanders, and brother, Dewey Sanders, as well as beloved friends Alex and Shirley Travo of Norwalk, CT.

He is survived by companion Helen Loretta Blevins of New Bern, NC, two sons; John Sanders (Barbara) of New Jersey, Peter Sanders (Leonora) of Connecticut daughter, Mary Trevino of Texas, two grandchildren; Nicole Fidanza (Nicholas) of CT, Michael Sanders (Gaetana) of CT, three great grandchildren; Penelope, Palmer, Dominic.

In lieu of flowers please consider donating in Bill’s honor to the charity of your choice.

A private memorial service will be held at Greenleaf Memorial Park.


No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.


Billy Joe Sanders

have a memory or condolence to add?

Peter Sanders

March 1, 2021

I would like to thank the staff at Cotten Funeral Home.