Joshua Sanford
Captain Joshua Sanford
Joshua Sanford Field Sign

Joshua Sanford Field Airport

The field is named for Joshua Decorah Sanford, a former Hillsboro resident and the only Native American pilot and flight commander to fly with the renowned Flying Tigers of WWII fame.

Josh, or "Chief as he is fondly remembered, was born in a wigwam near Friendship, WI on January 19, 1919 to Maude Decorah of the Ho-Chunk Nation and Herbert Sanford, Seneca from Cayuga County, New York and graduate of Cornell University.

In early 1941, while attending UW-Madison, Joshua enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps. After his pilot training, he became a member of the Flying Tiger Sharks, 75th Fighter Squadron, and 23rd Fighter Group, 14th Air Force stationed in Heng Yeng, China. Honors received during Captain Sanford's 102 combat missions between 1942 and 1945 included two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Air Medals, two Purple Hearts, five campaign ribbons and presidential and unit citations. Thirty years after WWII, China awarded the Flying Tigers the "China War Memorial Medal", which Joshua received posthmously.

After the war, Josh completed his education in electronics, returned to Hillsboro and established his business. His family resided in Hillsboro until 1956 when Captain Sanford became manager of the Reedsburg, WI Municipal Airport. In August of 1961, he was appointed Civil Defense Director for an eleven county area of Southwestern Wisconsin. He continued these these duties until his untimely death from complications of war injuries at the age of 43 on October 21, 1962.

Joshua, who always referred to Hillsboro as home, was laid to rest in Hillsboro's Mt. Vernon Cemetery. The Hillsboro Airport was dedicated to Joshua on May 30, 1993 and an exhibit honoring Captain Sanford is on display at the Hillsboro Historical Society Museum.

Joshua Sanford Field Airport was closed by the City of Hillsboro in 2016 to accommodate the expansion of the butter factory abutting the airport runway. 

 

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