- Cullman, Alabama

May 9, 2013

Replacement headstone dedication

Bob Leiendecker of Charlottesville, Va.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA — On the 13th of April a small dedication ceremony was held at the Simcoe Methodist Church Cemetery for an Army veteran who had passed away in September of 1999. Sergeant Major Kinever C. Sanford Sr. served in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, having spent some of that time in the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) or bomb disposal field. It was discovered that the EOD badge, worn over the years by EOD members of the four military services, had been mistakenly engraved on his headstone upside down. A photo of the error was posted on an EOD website and an immediate surge of interest developed amongst current and retired EOD personnel to have the error corrected.

Colonel Rita Casey, a resident of Cullman, and a current Army Reserve EOD officer, took on the task to "right the wrong". She visited the cemetery, contacted family members, took in donations from EOD personnel, had a new headstone made and installed, and organized the very moving dedication ceremony. A small number of people from as far away as Virginia, including EOD technicians, military chaplains, and local citizens gathered to pay their respects and bless the new headstone.

Sanford's nephew, Arnold Sanford, also a Cullman resident, was in attendance and thanked everyone for their work in emplacing the new headstone. His presence was a fitting addition to the solemn ceremony and a way for those present to reach out to the Sanford family and learn more about SGM Sanford himself.

The EOD community is a very tight-knit group and it made no difference to those assembled, or those who contributed money for the new headstone, that SGM Sanford was not personally known to any of them. It only mattered that he was an EOD veteran who had honorably served his country in three wars and that his headstone needed to be replaced. In his honor and memory the group assembled and paid him the tribute due his service.