Sanford LaMartine Mead was born in Detroit, Michigan on June 15, 1905, son of Lemuel Carlisle and Lena May (Buck) Mead. After graduating from high school, he attended Highland Park Junior College, Highland Park, Michigan (1924-1926) where he was President of the Sophomore Class and Student Council (1925-1926); member of Sock-Buskin Dramatic Society and received the annual scholarship award as Best All-round Student. At the University of Michigan (1926-1928) he developed the Junior Class organization "School of Education" and was Senior Class Treasurer. Majoring in Administrative Education, he received the "Life Teaching Certificate" and the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Education.
Prior to his Senior Year at the University of Michigan, he took flight training in an enlisted status at Great Lakes and Norfolk and was commissioned Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve on July 26, 1929. In August 1929, he married Frances E. Duncan in Highland Park, Michigan. They had two children, Sanford L. Mead, Jr. and Susan E. (Mead) Beck and had 4 grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren. He was designated Naval Aviator in December 1930 and served in Naval Aviation since that time. Through normal promotions and his transfer to the U.S. Navy in 1941, he attained the rank of Captain, USN, with a date of rank of May 1, 1950.
He was assigned in 1931, to Utility Squadron ONE at San Diego, California for one year of active duty and during the subsequent period ending in June 1935 , had various periods of training duty as a Naval Reserve Officer. He was called to permanent active duty on July 7, 1935, as a Flight Instructor at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida. On June 25,1941, he reported to the USS YORKTOWN and for a year served as a ship's officer on board that aircraft carrier. He participated in convoy duty in the Atlantic, in the Marshall-Gilberts raids, the Salamau-Lae raid, the Battle of the Coral Sea and the Battle of Midway.
From July 1, 1942 to October 1943, he was Executive Officer at the Naval Air Station, Barbers Point, Territory of Hawaii. He served as a Commanding Officer of the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Whiting Field, Pensacola, Florida from December 4, 1943 until April 10, 1945. During the next year he served as Executive Officer of the USS BLOCK ISLAND during the Okinawa Campaign and the Balikipapan Invasion and from June 1946 to May 1947 was a student at General Line School, Newport, Rhode Island.
He was on duty at the Naval Air Station, Anacostia, D.C. June to August, 1947, followed by a year at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Washington, D.C. After graduation, he was ordered to Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet, Pearl Harbor, Hawaii where he served from August of that year until June, 1951 on the staff of Commander Submarine Force Pacific as Air-Submarine Tactical and Training Coordinator. In the two years to follow he had duty on the staff of the Commandant, Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Virginia, in the Operations and Plans Division.
Reporting next to the USS CAPE ESPERANCE (TCVE 88), he served as her Commanding Officer until February 10, 1955. On March 7, 1955, he was made Commanding Officer of the Naval Air Station, Corpus Christi, Texas. In the fall of 1956, Captain Mead took command of the FLEET AIR WING SIX, Iwakuni, Japan. On March 1, 1958, Captain Mead requested voluntary retirement from the U.S. Navy and settled with Mrs. Frances E. (Duncan) Mead in Traverse City, Michigan.