Major General Sanborn was commissioned in May 1986 after graduating from the University of Florida on an NROTC scholarship. Upon completion of The Basic School, he reported to NAS Pensacola, FL for primary flight instruction and earned his wings in October 1988 at NAS Meridian, MS.
Major General Sanborn reported to MCAS Cherry Point, NC for AV-8B transition training in November 1988. His initial assignment was to VMA-231, where he served in both operations and maintenance billets. While serving with VMA-231 he completed two deployments, first to Iwakuni, Japan and then to Southwest Asia, where he participated in Operation Desert Storm. On 9 February 1991, Major General Sanborn was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over southern Kuwait during his 17th combat mission. He was captured and held as an Iraqi POW until his release on 6 March 1991.
In July 1992, Major General Sanborn reported to 1st Battalion, 8th Marines, Camp Lejeune, NC where he served as a Forward Air Controller. During this tour, he received a Master of Science in Business Administration from Boston University in December 1992.
In July 1993, Major General Sanborn returned to MCAS Cherry Point, NC where he was assigned to VMA-542 and was selected as a cadre member of the Fleet Introduction Team, which introduced the new AV-8B Harrier II+ to the USMC. In March 1994, Major General Sanborn was reassigned to VMA-231 where he again served in both operational and maintenance billets. In June 1996, Major General Sanborn deployed to the Mediterranean Sea with the first AV-8B Harrier II+ detachment as part of HMH-365 and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit. During this deployment, he took part in combat operations Joint Endeavor, Silverwake, and Guardian Retrieval.
Returning to CONUS in June 1997, Major General Sanborn was assigned to Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD where he served as the Assistant Program Manager for Systems Engineering for the AV-8B. In July 2000, he attended the resident Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, VA and in July 2001 Major General Sanborn returned to MCAS Cherry Point, NC for duty as the Executive Officer of VMA-542. In January 2003, he returned to Iraq with the squadron and participated in combat operations Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom.
Upon returning from OIF in May 2003, Major General Sanborn was reassigned to MAG-14 as the Group Operations Officer. He slated for command of VMA-542 and returned to the squadron in April 2004 prior to the squadron's redeployment to Iraq for OIF II. Major General Sanborn assumed command of VMA-542 in June 2004 while the squadron was deployed at Al Asad, Iraq. During his tour, VMA-542 won the Lawson H.M. Sanderson Marine Attack Squadron of the Year award.
Following his command tour, he attended the Industrial College of Armed Forces at Fort McNair, VA from July 2006 until June 2007 graduating with a Master of Science in National Resource Strategy and completed the Senior Acquisition Course. Upon graduation, he was reassigned to the Joint Strike Fighter Program Office in Washington, D.C. where he served as the Director of Air Systems Requirements.
In May 2009, Major General Sanborn took command of Marine Aircraft Group 14 at Cherry Point. MAG-14 is the largest Air Group in the Marine Corps with over 100 aircraft and 3400 personnel. Following command, Major General Sanborn served as the Assistant Wing Commander for 2nd MAW (Forward) deploying to Afghanistan until May 2011.
In July 2011 he was assigned as the Deputy Director J-3, U.S. European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Subsequently, from July 2013 until July 2015, Major General Sanborn served as the Director of Marine and Family Programs, HQMC Manpower and Reserve Affairs. In July 2015, Major General Sanborn was assigned as the Commanding General of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing Okinawa, Japan.
In July 2017, MajGen Sanborn assumed duties as the Commander, Marine Corps Forces, Europe and Africa, Stuttgart, Germany.
Major General Sanborn has accumulated over 2400 hours in the AV-8B. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal w/1 oak leaf cluster, Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal w/ 2 gold stars, Strike/Flight Award with numeral 8, Individual Air Medal with Combat V, Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal w/ gold star and a Combat Action Ribbon.