Marjorie Champion Salamone
Army Spouse & Government Employee
On September 11, 2001, while working at the Pentagon as a Program Analyst for the Army Program Budget Division, Resources Services, Washington.
Marjorie was born on October 7, 1947 in Chipley (Pine Mountain) Goergia and is survived by her husband of 31 years, Dr. Bernard P. Salamone of Springfield, Virginia and their daughters, Ann Marie of Springfield, Virginia and Amanda of New York City. She is also survived by her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Hubert Champion of Pine Mountain, Georgia and her brother, Dr. Richard M. Champion of Birmingham, Alabama.
A graduate from Auburn Univeristy with an undergraduate degree in Textile Chemistry, School Engineering and a Masters in Textile Science, Marjorie served a total of 26 years as a loyal federal employee, spending the past 10 years at the Pentagon. She served proudly for over 30 years in one of the toughest roles as an Army spouse.
A Funeral Mass will be held on Friday, September 28, 2001 at 9:45 a.m. at the Old Post Chapel on Ft. Myer followed by interment at Arlington National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers the family request contributions
be made to the Marjorie Champion Salamone Memorial Fund, c/o John Carroll
Catholic High School, 300 Lakeshore Parkway, Birmingham, AL 35209. Arrangements
by DEMAINE FUNERAL HOME.
At age 8, Marjorie Champion started driving
the hay truck for her father in Pine Mountain, Georgia. At 16, she headed
off to college, where she taught her roommate statistics and fell in
love with Ben Salamone, her future husband. At 53, just two
Tuesday morning, Amanda, 22, called her mother's Pentagon office. Through her Manhattan window, Amanda saw the attack on the World Trade Center towers. Salamone comforted her, then left a message on her husband's voice mail: Amanda is safe.
"She was always thinking of us," said Ben Salamone, 55, who at the time was giving a briefing at the Department of Agriculture. After 31 years of marriage, that was the last time he heard Marjorie's voice. "She was judged quickly. Now, she's in heaven with the Lord," he said.
Marjorie Salamone would often carpool with other Springfield residents headed to the Pentagon, where she was an Army budget analyst. Her husband recalled, "A neighbor came by and said, 'Your wife was a wonderful slug,' " using the jargon for carpooling commuters.
Salamone was also a take-charge person. When a neighbor's basement flooded, she tracked down the water main and cranked off the flow. After a big freeze, she went door to door helping neighbors relight pilot lights. She was set to help her dad harvest the family's 120 pecan trees.
When her mother wanted a new carpet, Marjorie navigated a dump truck to the mill store to pick it up. Somebody hit the wrong lever, nearly dumping their load on the road home.
"We sat there, and we laughed," recalled Salamone's mother, Lillian Champion, 78. Then they finished the job. "We took everything out of the living room and stretched it out," she said.
Friends of Amanda and Ann Marie, 24, Salamone's older daughter, said she always looked out for them, too.
"I needed a comforter. She went and bought one for me," said Maire Soosaar, 23, whose own mother had passed away.
"She told Amanda she wanted to do everything she could for me," Soosaar said, "because nobody shouldn't have a mom."
-- Michael Laris
Auburn University graduate Marjorie Champion Salamone, 53, a budget analyst for the U.S. Army, was sitting in her new office when the hijacked American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon.
Salamone's office was on the first floor of the outer ring of the Pentagon in section 4, the exact area where the jet crashed.
"No one in her office survived," said Richard Champion, Salamone's brother.
Champion said his sister, who had worked at the Pentagon for 10 years, had just moved into that office a month ago.
Salamone was raised in Pine Mountain, Georgia, and graduated from Troup High School.
She received a bachelor of science in textile chemistry with a minor in statistics from the College of Engineering.
Salamone lived in Springfield, Virginia, with her husband, Colonel Ben Salamone, also an Auburn graduate.
Salamone is survived by daughters Ann Marie, 24, of Richmond, Va., and Amanda, 22 of New York City.
"She has left a legacy," Champion said. "She raised a couple of great daughters."
"She was a hard-working civilian for the Army," Colonel Salamone said. "She was an excellent worker -- always dependable."
The Salamones met in organic chemistry class at Auburn.
"We have a love for Auburn University because that is where we met," Salamone said.
Salamone said he and his wife followed Auburn football.
"Even when we were in Alaska, we would call to see how Auburn was doing," Salamone said.
Amanda Salamone is working for an advertising agency in New York City. She was in her office about a mile away from the World Trade Center when the first plane hit the 110-story north tower.
The Salamone's first concern was for their daughter.
Salamone called her husband and left a voice message saying that Amanda had called her to say she (Amanda) was OK. Colonel Salamone was unable to return the call.
Champion said Yolanda Bursie, a friend who worked with Salamone, had a doctor's appointment that day and was unable to change it. He said she showed up later than usual and watched from the Pentagon's parking deck as the plane dived in.
Champion said another friend of Salamone's, Sharon Weaver, was in a hallway on her way to see Salamone when the attack occurred. She was 150 feet away when the plane crashed.
Officials did not give the family any hope of finding Salamone's remains, since the crash was directly in her office.
On September 18, a week after the attack, the family received word that her remains had been identified through dental records.
Salamone told her husband before the attack that she wanted to be buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
Salamone will receive her wish. Colonel Salamone said she will receive a traditional military funeral. The Pentagon can easily be seen from her plot at Arlington.
"Because of the attacks, civilians are being recognized for their dedicated service to the military," Salamone said.
"You could never find anyone to say anything bad about her," Champion said. "She was warm, compassionate -- a brilliant intellect."
Colonel Salamone said his situation is not as bad as many others'. Many people did not get to spend enough time with those they lost.
"Right after we married, we traveled for 30
years, so, in essence, we had a 30-year honeymoon," Colonel Salamone said.
"We had a wonderful time."
No one had to ask Ben Salamone twice if he'd serve on the Pentagon Memorial Fund's steering committee.
After all, his wife was among the victims on September 11, 2001, when terrorists crashed a hijacked airliner into the Pentagon, killing 59 passengers on the plane and 125 military and civilian employees. She was the only native of the Chattahoochee Valley area to die in the attack.
Marjorie Champion Salamone, a native of Pine Mountain, had moved into her renovated office in the Pentagon's E-ring only a week before the attack.
An Army budget analyst, she had worked in the Pentagon for 10 years and at age 53 was looking forward to the day she and her husband could retire back in her hometown.
Ben Salamone, a veterinary epidemiologist for the Department of Agriculture, was giving a briefing that morning at his Washington, D.C., office when he was told of the crash at the Pentagon.
He rushed back to his office and noticed that he'd missed a telephone call. It was from Marjorie, telling him that their daughter Amanda had witnessed the attacks on the World Trade Center that morning from her office in New York City but that he should not worry, Amanda was OK.
Just days before, the family had been in Manhattan, helping Amanda move into her new apartment.
Salamone hustled to the nearest television set and saw flames gushing from the site where American Airlines Flight 77 had crashed into the Pentagon, exactly where his wife had been working.
"I pretty well knew she was gone," he said by phone earlier this week from his Washington office. "She was murdered, and so were the rest. I still attend grief counseling. My entire life changed that day."
Salamone, who had retired from the Army's veterinary corps after 30 years, was approached a few months after the tragedy about serving on a steering committee to select a design for the memorial.
"Obviously, we wanted something of beauty, something where people could peacefully reflect on what happened that terrible morning," he said. "We didn't want to rush into this. We received almost 1,200 submissions from around the country. We finally selected the final design in September 2002."
In May 2003, several members from the memorial selection committee were asked to become directors of the fund which would ultimately be responsible for building the $30 million memorial.
The field of memorial units, or benches, located on the Pentagon grounds near the point of impact, will be arranged as a timeline of the victims' ages, from the youngest, 3-year-old Dana Falkenburg, to the oldest, John D. Yamnicky, 71. Benches of those killed in the Pentagon will face the building; those killed on the plane will face away from the building.
If fund-raising efforts go as planned, the memorial could be dedicated as soon as September 2006.
"We're making a nationwide appeal for funds," said Salamone. "If only 300,000 people give $9.11 for 11 months, we can reach our goal."
One family that has already made a generous pledge is that of Lillian and Hubert Champion, Marjorie's parents.
"We still have a problem accepting that our only daughter is dead," said Lillian Champion. "And I know that Ben and their two daughters have had a rough time, too. Working on this project, hopefully, is of some help. Marjorie and all the Pentagon victims need to be remembered for their sacrifice."
Marjorie is buried at Arlington National Cemetery,
within walking distance of the place where she died.
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 27 June 2003