AFRH-W Resident Highlight – Sandy Intorre
By PK Knor | Resident
On July 4th, we not only celebrated the birth of our nation, but also, since 1921, the birth of Sandy Intorre! Happy 100th birthday, Sandy, and many more!
Sandy was born to Vincent and Philomena Intorre, who traveled from Sicily and settled in the small western Pennsylvania coal mining town of Masontown. Her parents owned a local store where most of her nine brothers and sisters worked.
Sandy studied all of the secretarial subjects in school and when she was 21 she left home and joined her brother Salvatore, in State College Pennsylvania, where she worked at Penn State University. Both she and Salvatore (later a master sergeant) enlisted in the Army. Sandy joined the WAC (Women’s Army Corps) in June 1943 for basic training at Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, and from there she was sent to Fort Jay, New York.
Her first big assignment, as a PFC, was in 1944 as a typist in the Cable Message Center of the Adjutant General’s Office in Normandy, France. Hundreds of important messages were transmitted daily through this center to various base operations responsible for the flow of supplies from the French port to advancing armies on the western front. Despite enemy snipers, air raids and minefields, they started operations immediately from a field tent!
Her other European assignments included England, Belgium, and Germany. Since her family was from Sicily, she managed to squeeze in two visits to their hometown of Campobello di Licata while in Europe. On her first visit, she was met at the airport by her relatives in a horse and buggy. They were very conservative and she shocked them by being the only woman on a military flight. People in her village lined the road to see a relative who was a sergeant in the American Army!
She had a break in service when the Army disbanded the WACs. She stayed in Washington, DC, and had a job at Bolling Field Air Force Base. After about a year, when the Army realized they couldn’t survive without women… she re-entered and was then stationed at Bolling Field AFB!
From 1950-1953, Sandy was sent to Yokohama, Japan, where she had her most interesting work experience. She was assigned to the judge advocate office during the processing of the prisoners of war exchange. Later, she served as a first sergeant to a WAC detachment there, where they adopted two orphanages. The unit had a grand time making the lives of these children happy! Sandy recalls one time, when she was in charge of taking the children back to the orphanage on the bus, the arrival count was off. She had to search the bus and found one of the children hiding under the seat because he didn’t want to go back to the orphanage.
As a staff sergeant, Sandy served two tours as a recruiter in Detroit, Michigan, where her family then lived. In between these recruiting duties, she was stationed in England. She also spent time at Fort Lawton, Washington. Her favorite assignment was Fort Shafter, Hawaii, where she spent five years. She certainly was a well-traveled soldier!
During one of her assignments, she was taking dictation from a particularly straight-forward colonel. In his dictation he said, “Between dishes and douches I am in hot water all the time!” Sandy actually had to ask another staff member if what she heard was correct, and yes it was!
As an E-7, she served as sergeant major of the WAC School in Fort McClellan, Alabama. Her next promotion, to E-8, sent her to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, where she served as a first sergeant to 500 women. Being very resourceful and wanting to learn their names, she stood in the mailroom and handed out the mail! She turned down a promotion to E-9 and retired in 1967 from Fort Sam, Houston.
Upon her retirement, Sandy moved home to Michigan to help care for her mother and sister. After her mother passed, she took her sister to live in Hawaii for five more years. Even though Sandy loved Hawaii, her sister missed Michigan, so they went back home.
Sandy loved to decorate cakes, and she made framed Christmas tree decorations from old jewelry. She moved to AFRH-W in 2000 and has been very satisfied with that move.