Idaho woman's WWII story becomes official part of U.S. history

Story preserved in the Library of Congress

The Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa works in conjunction with the Library of Congress for the Veterans History Project. All across the country, Veteran's stories are being recorded and preserved. The museum has been doing this for about 15 years and they just had their 1,000th interview.
 
Florence Mary Sandy has just told her story, but she's not a Veteran. 
 
"We were sitting around and all of the sudden somebody said, turn the radio on quick, the Japanese have bombed pearl harbor," said Florence Mary Sandy, Hagerman resident. 
 
Florence Mary Sandy was a freshman at the University of Washington living in her sorority house, Phi Mu in 1941. She says, President Roosevelt told everyone to turn out all their lights on the West coast.  
 
"So, we turned out all the lights and we sat in the dark and listening to the news," said Sandy.
 
Florence Mary hasn't strayed too far from home. From Hagerman, Idaho, she was born in the house she lives in now, but that doesn't mean she hasn't had a lot of experiences in her life. 
 
"It's hard to explain how we felt, we didn't know what was going to happen, we didn't know, we thought they would, everybody thought they were going to come right on and bomb Seattle," said Sandy.
 
Florence Mary says, men even came to the University of Washington campus for officers' training. 
 
"We were blacked out for four years, the whole four years and all the men from campus went to war," said Sandy.
 
And right across the bay from Seattle, there was a ship yard. 
 
"They trained there and they had their submarines and I had the privilege of being invited to go through a submarine and they were so little. I couldn't believe how little they were, you know for the men," said Sandy.
 
Florence Mary enjoyed this walk down memory lane, but her memories don't belong to only her anymore. The Warhawk Air Museum in Nampa aims to capture and save memories of Veterans.
 
"They're very important to preserve the truths of our American experiences during wartime," said Sandy. 
 
And the memories of civilians during times of war.
 
"Especially during World War Two, the home front in America, was vital to winning World War Two, we couldn't have done it without the support of the home front," said Sandy.
 
All of this information is then turned over to the Library of Congress. Florence Mary considers it quite an honor to have her experiences preserved for all to see. She says, times were hard during World War Two, but she wanted to do her part.
 
"The nurses had to go over seas," said Sandy.
 
And that's why she decided to become a Red Cross nurse's aid. 
 
"They just didn't have nurses to help the patients in the hospitals. They were very, very short," said Sandy. 
 
She also volunteered for another assignment, that was a bit more fun.    
 
"It was a canteen where the soldiers and the servicemen could come in and we had a jukebox, we danced with them and served them soft drinks and ice cream and visited with them," said Sandy. 
 
At the U.S.O. in downtown Seattle, Florence Mary was a hostess and made friends with the servicemen. But it was still a time of war, so there were some unavoidable tragedies. 
 
"He would call me and we were going to have a date and then he would call me and say he had to go out to war to fight and this went on for several months and then the last time he called me, he was shot down and he never came back," said Sandy. 
 
Florence Mary did move on and move back to Hagerman, where she met and married the love of her life, but she'll never forget those years spent in Seattle. 
 
Many of the interviews conducted by the Warhawk Air Museum are available to watch on their website. If you or someone you know has a story to tell about a time of war, you can contact the Warhawk Air Museum to begin the application process. Just head to their website here, http://warhawkairmuseum.org/veterans-history-project/
 
 
Print this article Back to Top