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Beloved correspondent Kerry Sanders retires after 32 years at NBC News

Sanders seemingly covered it all, from war zones to hurricanes to breaking news, in reporting from 50 states and 65 countries since joining NBC News in 1991.

A wide-ranging career at NBC News that has taken beloved correspondent Kerry Sanders to all 50 states and 65 countries —from reporting underwater in scuba gear to asking tough questions of political figures — is coming to an end after 32 years.

Kerry's range as an award-winning reporter was celebrated on TODAY on Jan. 17 as he heads into retirement from a job that he began at NBC News in 1991.

Kerry Sanders began his career at NBC News in 1991 after working at an NBC affiliate in Miami.
Kerry Sanders began his career at NBC News in 1991 after working at an NBC affiliate in Miami.TODAY

“I think that I can’t believe that I had this amazing opportunity to join this family,” he said on TODAY. “I still pinch myself to think that you all welcomed me and that I was a part of this. It’s been a dream come true.”

The Peabody and Emmy award-winner seemingly covered it all since joining the team as a reporter out of NBC Miami affiliate WTVJ, whether it involved daredevil adventures like jumping out of airplanes and hanging from cliffs, or essential reporting on elections, mass shootings and legal trials that captivated the country.

He endured the severe weather of more than 100 named storms to bring viewers important updates, and also reported from the ground during the war in Iraq.

On the 3rd hour of TODAY on Tuesday, Kerry reflected on the danger involved in his war coverage.

"I will say that I was scared in the war," he said. "I went to many conflicts, but probably when I was embedded with the Marines, 2d Battalion 8th Marines. I'm here today because they saved my life and my crew every day, in many cases.

"If you take the six, seven weeks that we were together, I lost 17 pounds, and that was worry weight. I burned it right off."

Kerry Sanders
One of Kerry's more far-flung reporting assignments came in 2007 on the Island of Gukera, Tikhaya Bay at Franz Josef Land Archipelago, a cluster of islands located far north of Russia in the Arctic Ocean.Kerry Sanders / NBC

Iraq was just one of many destinations far from home for Kerry. He visited all seven continents and the North Pole during his tenure.

"The amazing thing about this job is that I got a chance to go everywhere," he said.

Kerry is synonymous with his home state of Florida, where he graduated from the University of South Florida and went on to cover national stories like Trayvon Martin's death, the school shooting in Parkland and the Casey Anthony trial.

He also was a fixture of hurricane and political coverage in the state over the years, including the vote-counting controversy during the 2000 presidential election.

The eagerness to tackle any assignment that he showed as a young reporter in the early '90s never waned as he became a regular presence on TODAY, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC and Dateline NBC.

He said he traveled about 200 days a year for work, so he's looking forward to being home more.

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams
Kerry reported from the site of the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform off the coast of Texas that exploded in 2010, killing 11 crewmen and causing the largest marine oil spill in history.Dwaine Scott / NBC

"With 200 days a year, my wife, Deborah, has been an amazing supporter," he said. "But we kind of sat and said, 'This might be the right time.'"

The couple realized when he was home for long stretches during the height of pandemic restrictions that it may be time for a new chapter in their lives.

"We realized that we do really good together all the time, so maybe that's what we should do now," he said.

While it's hard to imagine Kerry resting in retirement, he can now finally use the four million frequent flier miles he has racked up over the years for some well-earned vacations.

"I can still go diving, I can still go out and do that," he said. "What will I miss most? Ultimately, it's the camaraderie and the family, because this is a daily, high-energy experience."

Kerry's career also is being celebrated with more highlights from his unforgettable stories on our streaming channel, TODAY All Day, starting at 10 a.m. ET on Jan. 17.