By MYRA D. COLGATE
CHEROKEE PENTECOSTAL HOLINESS CHURCH
“Train up a child in the way he should go [and in keeping with his individual gift or bent], and when he is old he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6 (AMP)
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
“I and my Father are one.” John 10:27-30 (KJV)
(In the honoring of Father’s Day, it was decided to continue the story of a life well-lived with dedication in serving his—and our—country. In sacrificing his own personal freedom, he has earned much gratitude and respect.)
They’d learned of the death of President Roosevelt just as their camp was being moved. Then being moved again because of the heavy Allied bombing, Soldier Edward Sanders, decided it was the best time to try and escape. He and his friend, Elmer Loving, told the others of their plan while staying in a barn where the camp had stopped for the night during their 75-mile forced march. (Having been nailed shut, for eight days and nights, into a crowded boxcar with little food or water and no sanitary facilities, while also in danger by the bombing and strafing attacks of the Allies,) their buddies willingly gave them rations, a map, a compass and their prayers.
The two escaping soldiers headed west, sleeping during the day and trading small items like sewing needles, thread, soap and cigarettes for food with isolated farm people. In the next two weeks finding drinking water became a real problem. More formidable a problem were the marshes of the Danube River. They spent three days looking for a less-guarded bridge, a boat, or a shallow place to ford it. Suddenly a German unit came through between them. They both had to dive for cover. After they passed by, Sanders started searching for his friend but he never saw him again. He prayed for his friend’s safety constantly.
Three days later Sanders caught up with a fast-moving tank unit that had just liberated another prison camp. Because of his American Indian features he had no problem convincing them who he was. Because of not being used to much food, they gave him some of the eggs they had gotten from a nearby farm, but it was still too rich for him and made him very sick. They sent him out in one of their empty supply trucks returning to division headquarters. From there he was flown to a hospital in Paris, France, where he was kept for almost two weeks. His wife was notified that he was no longer a POW and would soon be home.
Soldier Edward Sanders was decorated with a Distinguished Unit Citation, Air Medal with First Oak Leaf Cluster, EAME Ribbon, and a Bronze Star. He also received the Oklahoma Cross of Valor from Governor Johnston Murray and the People of Oklahoma for his service and for enduring the treatment he received as a prisoner of war…”that our people remain free,”
He returned to the job he had before he went into the military. He also volunteered as assistant coach for many athletic teams, but noticed that his back gave him trouble. He loved baseball and played as often he could, but he ended up going to the VA Hospital in 1947. “I must have messed up my back when we bailed out over Germany.” They put him in traction for two weeks and was told he would need surgery. He switched to tennis instead,
To finish his education, he attended Northwestern, Tellico, Okla., 1957-59, where he competed on their champion tennis team. He finished at Haskell Institute, in Lawrence, Kan.
His daughter, Karen, traveled with him to the tennis tournaments. By age 14, she played in national competition. While attending Western Carolina University, she played four years on the men’s varsity tennis team.
His son, James E. ‘Butch’ Sanders was N.C. State champion out of Wingate Jr. College. He went into the Marines, attended ODU and graduated from Barry College, Miami, earning his Master’s Degree.
Son, William D., a PFC in Vietnam was awarded the Army Commendation Medal “for carrying a wounded buddy while under heavy fire to the evacuation helicopter.”
Daughter, Faren, attended the University of Georgia competing in golf, grew up in “Unto These Hills”, appeared in Seventeen and National Geographic Magazines, and was crowned “Miss University of Georgia”.