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Stafford woman was on island of Oahu during Pearl Harbor attack, and in the Pentagon on 9/11.
Ruth Feltner was a toddler on the island of Oahu when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and was working in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.
REZA MARVASHTI/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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By RUSTY DENNEN
When Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor, Ruth Feltner was two miles away on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
And in an extraordinary twist of fate, the 71-year-old Stafford County woman was working in the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, when a plane hijacked by terrorists smashed into the symbol of American military might.
"I do believe that God is watching over me, and that I have an angel sitting on my shoulder," Feltner said in a recent interview.
"When I tell people I was in both places, they say, 'Oh, I don't want to walk too close to her.' But then my husband, Gene, says, 'No, you do want to walk close to her.'"
Feltner's first brush with history was the morning of Dec. 7, 1941. When the bombs and torpedoes began to strike at Pearl Harbor, she was at her grandmother's home, within earshot of the explosions. Her brother and sister were staying nearby with a baby sitter, who died of a heart attack during the bombing.
Feltner was 21 months old--too young to remember what was happening, though family members later filled in the details.
"Our mom gathered us together and the rest is history: blacked-out windows, curfews, block wardens, older children (older than me) carrying gas masks to school, bomb-shelter drills at school every day, victory gardens, war stamps, gas rationing," she said.
She does recall asking her mother, several years later: "'Whatever happened to the bunny-rabbit gas mask I had?' And she said they had to be turned back in to the government."
Years later, as a teenager, "I remember my family taking me to Hickam Air Force Base, where my stepfather worked, and showing me the bullet holes created by the Japanese warplanes."
She added, "Ironically, I now work for a historic church that has bullet holes" from the Civil War Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, "and I get to see those every day."
Born and raised on Oahu, Feltner left the island at age 18, joining her sister in the States with the intention of becoming a flight attendant.
"I got there and found out you had to be 20," she said.