July Hometown Military Hero - Sandra Webb
Sandra Webb —master sergeant, Army wife and mother, dedicated volunteer
At 17 years old, California girl Sandra Webb fell in love with her 19-year-old soulmate, Kenneth Webb — the boy next door. Following in the military footsteps of his career Navy father, Marion County native Howard Webb, Kenneth enlisted in the Army and left California for basic training. Upon his return, Kenneth and Sandra were reunited and married.
“For the first 16 years of marriage, I did the ‘wife and mother’ thing for Kenny and our two sons, Howard and Will,” said Sandra. “At 32 years old, I enlisted in the Army on a bet with Kenny, who believed I couldn’t make it through basic training. I proved him wrong and toughed it out for 28 years before I eventually retired!”
She believes every female should serve two years in the military, but, as she explains, “not because I’m some kind of feminist but because I believe the training makes you more self-sufficient. I’ve seen so many high school girls who just want to get married and have babies and let someone take care of them. But if that doesn’t work out, they often end up without the skills to take care of themselves. The Army will teach you those skills and pay for you to get a college degree.”
Webb was deployed for two combat tours: Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989 and again in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm in 1990. “Leaving my children in the early days was the hardest thing I ever had to do,” she said. “My in-laws, Howard and Nonie Webb, took care of our sons because Kenny was deployed, too.”
While Sandra was on active duty, she was a third shop mechanic and served on a contact team during her deployment to Saudi Arabia. Sandra noted, “I was responsible for fixing all the American vehicles to bring them home in working order.”
Webb transitioned off active duty and into the reserves after Desert Storm to finish out her career. Sandra and Kenneth moved back to Jasper when he retired from active duty in 1995; his parents had moved back there after Howard Webb’s retirement from the Navy.
Sandra was reassigned to the 3397th Garrison Support Unit in Chattanooga and served as the noncommissioned officer in charge of a finance section and as a civilian military technician. “Our job was to train troops for future deployments and make sure they had their personnel, health and finances in order before they left the United States for a forward-deployed area. I was sent to Fort Benning, Georgia, in 1997 to train reservists before they were deployed to Bosnia.”
Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and subsequent planning for the Iraq invasion, troops from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, were activated and deployed to Iraq. “Our unit was mobilized and sent to Fort Campbell to take over garrison operations,” Webb said.
“Our two sons also enlisted in the Army. Our older son, Howard, did one tour of duty and was deployed with me during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Will enlisted when he was 17 and, following his high school graduation, was sent to basic training. He has made a career in the Army Reserves, and I have been there to pin him at each advancement in rank. He now has more than 22 years of service, was recently promoted to major and works as an intelligence officer.”
Webb went on to say, “My husband, Kenny, passed away in 2000, and I retired from service in 2012.” Since retirement, Sandra’s jobs have all focused on volunteering. “I am a member of VFW Post 6362 in Jasper and the American Legion Post 92 in Dunlap. The VFW does all of the parades in Marion County— Christmas, Veterans Day and Fourth of July. On Memorial Day, we conduct a ceremony on the Courthouse Square to remember the fallen soldiers from Marion County. We take Christmas and Veterans Day cards made by students at Jasper Middle School when we visit the veterans hospital in Murfreesboro, which really means a lot to the patients there. We award ‘Patriot’ pins to student winners of our patriotism essay contest and to a teacher, police officer and fireman of the year selected by the group. We also help with military funerals when needed.”
In the past five years since retirement, Webb has focused her volunteer efforts on the Marion County Community Ministries (MCCM) Food Bank where she spends roughly 20 hours a week serving the community. Rev. Derrald Beck, MCCM president, noted, “That is 20 hours a week when what we ask of our volunteers is about two hours a week! She has assumed a vital leadership role in inventory control.” For her service at the food bank, Webb was named Volunteer of the Month by Channel 12 WDEF in Chattanooga, and a $500 donation was made to the MCCM Food Bank in her honor.
As we celebrate Independence Day this July 4, SVEC is proud to honor Sandra Webb and her entire military family as true Hometown Military Heroes!