Fort Bragg 'Survivor' celebrity turns 10th anniversary bash into a tropical paradise
Sandra Diaz-Twine, left, the "queen" of Survivor, poses for a photo op with Sonja Jordan, a fan of the show July 29. In addition to holding the two-time title of Survivor, Diaz-Twine is the wife of a Fort Bragg-based Soldier.

FORT BRAGG, N.C. - The Fort Bragg South Post Commissary celebrated its 10th anniversary on July 29 with a special appearance by "Sassy" Sandra Diaz-Twine, the crowned "queen" of Survivor, a popular reality television show featuring contestants who battle for $1 million in exotic locations around the world. Diaz-Twine holds the two-time Survivor title, a feat unmatched by any other contestant on the show.

Diaz-Twine, a Fayetteville resident and wife of a Soldier deployed to Afghanistan, strategized her way to the reality-show title in Survivor: Pearl Islands in 2003. This year, she returned to outwit a host of Survivor celebrities in its 20th season titled Heroes vs. Villains, filmed in Samoa.

Diaz-Twine's no nonsense approach, combined with her bilingual skills and covert information-gathering tactics, made her a valuable player in a game of psychological cloak and dagger. Those who impressed Diaz-Twine became part of her inner alliance, but contestants who double-crossed her felt the sharp tip of her revenge, which included missing food and tools.

On the season finale, fellow contestant Candice Woodcock, Team Hero, gave her vote to Diaz-Twine. "Sandra, in this game the line between hero and villain was blurred most of the time, but you work hard, you put Family first, and you always stayed true to yourself and that makes you a true hero to me," she said.

"I still have to pinch myself," said Diaz-Twine, who signed autographs for fans under a makeshift cabana, complete with potted trees and an island idol. "I didn't expect to win the first time, much less the second."

When asked how she emerged a two-time victor, Diaz-Twine answered, "Because I'm loyal to my alliance. If I'm loyal to you I'm going to be (with) you to the end." A fan of the show, Diaz-Twine studied other seasons to see how the winners strategized and the losers stumbled their way through the numerous alliances, challenges and tribal councils.

Eleven year-old Sarah Pettengill, who avidly followed the last two seasons of Survivor, planned an ordinary trip to the commissary but walked away with an autographed photo of a woman she considers a celebrity.

"I had no idea this was going on. It was an experience I thought I'd never get to do," Pettengill siad.

Pettengill plans to post photos of herself and Diaz-Twine on Facebook, and is hopeful that she'll be another Fort Bragg-based contestant some day. "I probably wouldn't win, but I think I could do it," said Pettengill, who said she enjoys watching contestants eat "all the disgusting stuff."
So what is one thing Pettengill wouldn't do on Survivor' "I probably wouldn't make an alliance with Russell (referring to this season's top villain), and I would never eat any rats," she said.

"I love her attitude and the way she handled being with other people. She was awesome ... as far as doing the things that she actually had to do to survive," said Sonja Jordan, a retired Army cook who watched the show with her daughter.

In addition to the meet-and-greet with fans, Diaz-Twine gave a shout-out to her loyal Fort Bragg Families, "I want to thank everybody for their love and support. There were a lot of people, especially in Fort Bragg voting for me, a lot of Army wives were behind me one hundred percent."

Page last updated Fri August 27th, 2010 at 12:54