Tales from the Battlefield: James '99 & Tamara Sanborn '98

By Debra Holtz

On Jan. 3, 2006, Tamara (Miyashiro) Sanborn ’98 was six months pregnant when she saw her husband, Navy Lt. (junior grade) James Sanborn ’99, off in San Diego for a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf. He boarded the USS Ronald Reagan the next day and called his wife to say goodbye, only to learn she was in the hospital.

“I naturally freak out as I know it is too early,” Sanborn recalls. “I spend the next hour running around the ship trying to get permission to get off.”

A Navy commander drove Sanborn to the hospital, where his son, Kai, was born later that day. “He was tiny, no bigger than my hand,” Sanborn says.

Sanborn spent a week with his wife and baby before flying to Hawaii to catch up with his ship. He says leaving them was probably the most difficult thing he has ever had to do.
Kai was in the hospital’s neonatal intensive care unit for three months, and Tamara says she survived the emotional roller coaster ride with the support of other military spouses. The commanding officer’s wife called every few days, and when Kai finally came home, the women brought meals and a welcome basket of baby items.

“The camaraderie was unbelievable,” she says.

The Internet and digital technology kept the Sanborns in touch through James’ deployments. While on the ship, he recorded videos of himself reading bedtime stories that his wife played daily for Kai so he would recognize his dad’s voice.

Kai is now a healthy 2-year-old, and the Sanborns are stationed at Pearl Harbor.

“I could not be where I am or do what I have done without her,” Sanborn says of his wife. “She is truly something else.”