She was once a Marine but not always a Marine
- Barbara Sherman
- Regal Courier - Features
Sandie Robertson had to buck tradition and join Air Force too
Sandie Roberson didn't join the Marines to become a cheerleader, but in fact, that was one of her duties while stationed in Hawaii - cheering on her base's football team.
After leaving the Marines, Sandie held other jobs, including working as a flight attendant when the rules were strict and the heels were high, and she later joined the Air Force, rounding out a long and colorful career.
Born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, Sandie worked after graduating from high school but wanted to see more of the world.
"I was working in downtown Columbus in 1962, and there was a recruiting office nearby," said the Eldorado Villas resident. "Two months later I was at Parris Island Marine Corps Recruit Depot in South Carolina. I turned 19 in boot camp. I call those my young and stupid years.
"Back then, women worked in administration. You were tested on your office skills, and the girls who got those assignments were called 'Remington Raiders' after the typewriter. My first duty station was Camp Pendleton, Calif. I was on the drill team, and the male drill instructor could be sarcastic, as in 'your other left, Marine.' He would march us into the sand, where the sand fleas would bite us. We would slap at them and then have to find the dead fleas in the sand - anything to belittle us.
"We marched in flats, but when the drill team was performing, we had to wear old lady tie-up shoes with taps on the heels and follow the horses in the parades, trying to stay in formation while not stepping in their droppings.
"We had to wear seamed stockings and red lipstick to match the cord on our hats. We could wear our hair up, but we couldn't wear any barrettes or bobby pins, and our hat had to be so many fingers above our eyebrows."
In the fall of 1963, Sandie was sent to Camp H. M. Smith, a U.S. Marine Corps installation in the Hawaiian town of Aiea on the island of Oahu in Hawaii.
"The Vietnam War was going hot and heavy then, and we were tracking troops," Sandie said. "It was all classified information on who was where and what happened to them. It was horrible to look at lists of casualties and see a friend's name on it."
But the position also came with the opportunity to try out for the Marines football team cheerleaders. Sandie and three other young ladies along with one man were chosen for the positions that also included such duties as serving at teas for dignitaries.
"I had to wait to go into the Marines to become a cheerleader," Sandie noted. "The male cheerleader would throw us around, and we would stand on his shoulders, but we didn't do all the tricks they do now. In Hawaii, there were two Marine bases and two Air Force bases, and each one had a team and cheerleaders."
Later, she went by ship back to the Mainland and served her last year in the Marines in Kansas City, Kan., in a disbursement office that handled payroll.
Sandie had signed up for four years in the Marines, but her service was extended by six months because of the Cuban missile crisis.
"When I joined in August 1962, you could not get married to another Marine without one of you leaving the service," Sandie said. "I thought I would be an old maid. I met a Marine in Kansas City, and we left the service and got married."
The marriage lasted five years, and Sandie went on to work nearly 20 years at various jobs and remarried.
"I was a banker and I worked for airlines in various roles, first for Midway for five years based in Indianapolis until it went bankrupt and then for USAir for another five years," she said.
Fight attendants had to wear their heels from the parking lot through the terminal to the plane, but they could wear flats while they were working on the plane, according to Sandie.
In fact, during that time she changed her name from Sandy to Sandie to differentiate herself from two other Sandys.
"In 1984 I needed to retire from the airlines and went into the Air Force Reserves, starting at Grissom Air Force Base in Virginia," Sandy said. "I graduated from the senior noncommissioned officer academy in Florida although I ended up on active duty the last three years. The bases send out notices when they have temporary active-duty jobs, which I pursued."
Sandie also applied and was selected to be a facilitator for a mid-level management course.
"Central Texas College sent a professor to instruct us for three days, and we followed up with team building and introducing military procedures into the course, which was for staff sergeants moving into management," Sandie said. "The military does a lot of joint work with colleges.
"I taught all over, and I flew into Langley Air Force Base in Virginia on Sept. 10, 2011, the day before 9-11. When the attacks happened, we were locked in a basement vault deciding who could use the airspace and which planes could fly."
Also in 1984 Sandie got married to her husband Andy, who had been a banker for 34 years but was forced out when his bank was purchased. They moved to Washington and bought a campground at Copalis Beach north of Ocean Shores.
Sandie finally retired from the military for good in September 2003 when she turned 60 and could not remain in the Air Force Reserves, and the couple moved to Eldorado Villas.
Andy became ill and died in February 2012 after 39 years of marriage; Sandie has one son, a stepson and stepdaughter, five granddaughters "and a lot of good memories," she said.
Sandie hasn't stopped being active in retirement - she was recently elected president of the Eldorado Villas Activities Association after serving on the board.