We're on a mission at Allegiance Flag Supply to honor our country and its greatest symbol, the American flag. We recently sat down with retired United States Coast Guard pilot, Captain Sandy Bee, and accomplished that mission and more. They say men and women of his age are the “Greatest Generation”. From speaking with Captain Bee, it doesn’t take long to understand what people mean by that. We sat down with him, on the steps of his home in Rockville, South Carolina, to learn more about his life and the America he’s called home for the past 90 years. Captain Bee is full of history and is an old fashioned storyteller, so we set on the porch of the house his great grandfather bought for $600 in 1865 to hear more. The definition of a “True American” is different to many people, that is what makes our country great. In our eyes, we definitely think we found one in Sandy. A devoted family man, a man of faith, a United States Veteran and a man that wasn’t afraid to get into a little mischief.
Born in 1929, Bee lives today in the house he grew up visiting his grandparents in as a child. That has come full circle now as his three children and eleven grandchildren still visit that house frequently. One of his granddaughters was just married in the front yard there last year. Bee has fond memories of growing up in the area, working on his grandfathers farm for 10 cents an hour, no doubt big money back then.
Life for Sandy started heating up around 14 or 15 when he got his first car. He knew that a cool car would lead to the girl he had his eye on, Rosie. When Sandy spotted a car for sale from a fireman nearby on James Island, he had to have it. A master negotiator in the making, he told the man selling it for $75 that he’d give him $20 for it. They haggled back and forth before finally settling on $32.50. The negotiation certainly went his way and the good fortune kept flowing as Sandy took off that night to take Rosie out on their first date in the car. That car is a 1930 Model A Ford and still sits in their garage today. It’s been in Miami, Washington DC, North Carolina and is now back home in Charleston. He’s rebuilt the engine four times on his own. It still runs today, just like his 66 year marriage to Rosie. Bee arrived to our meeting just on time as he was on on his way home from an afternoon meet up with old Coast Guard pals and just had to stop and grab Rosie a milkshake on the way home. Always remember to say “Yes, dear”, says Bee with his signature ear to ear grin.
Rosie and Sandy were married in 1953 and shortly after, the draft came calling for him. What Sandy thought would be a quick in and out turned into 28 years of flying planes for the Coast Guard and him retiring as a Captain. To that Sandy says, “Whatever you plan to do, you think you know but you really don’t have any idea. A lot of it is flying by the seat of your pants”. Sandy credits those years in the Coast Guard as some of the best in his life. Serving his country and having a little fun doing so.
“You notice how quiet it is here?”, Sandy asks referencing the sound of almost nothing on a hot June Rockville day. In 1956 they sent him down to Kiawah to locate a sinking ship by air right off the coast. He located and radioed a Coast Guard boat to rescue as the ship was sinking. His duty was done and it was back to base in NC. At the time, there was one house on Kiawah, one house on Seabrook and about 10 houses across the Bohicket River in Rockville he says. Sandy got to thinking about his Grandmother over in Rockville and jumped over to the Bohicket, right in front of his grandmothers home and did 200 knots about 20 feet over the water, wagged his wings at his grandmother and headed back to base in NC! When he got to Jacksonville, he called her and said “I came by to see you today and you didn’t even wave, I was flying that seaplane that came by your door”. Apparently she lit into him, “Young man, you have created the worst racket Rockville has ever endured!! “Was it loud”, he asked?!? “Broke half the window panes in Rockville and scared off all the animals along the way!”
All joking and storytelling aside, we asked Sandy what America and what the American flag means to him. With the deepest emotion, he responded-
“The flag is everything, it’s the symbol we all rally around. It’s everything. It’s pride in country and I owe it to our country to fly that flag. We’ve got the greatest country in the world. We’ve got an opportunity for anyone who takes it.”
Sandy likes to remind his children and grandchildren that when airplanes were made of wood and fabric, the pilots were already made of steel. They don’t make enough of 'em like Captain Sandy Bee anymore. He has served his family, his country and his legacy will forever shine on like so many other great Veterans in our country. Just two small examples in his home and his prized Model A Ford that show people like Sandy have staying power, just like our country. Like Sandy, we should stop to think about the deep roots of our country and feel pride and honor in what it means to be an American. You now have a little glimpse into what America means to him, what does it mean to you? #showallegiance