Marvin Roger Woods
Chief, United States Navy
a contemporary press report: 19 October 2001
Roger Woods, 57, was a Navy retiree working as a civilian manager at the Pentagon. Says his wife, Betty: "He is gone, and benefits will never replace him."
GREAT MILLS, Maryland — "In the middle of the desert, I met a sailor," says Betty Woods, 57. "He was my angel."
So began the tale of a marriage that would have turned 30 years old in January. It started with a chance meeting in a town in California's Mojave Desert. It ended September 11, 2001, when Marvin "Roger" Woods, 57, perished while working at the Pentagon.
He liked to hunt and fish and work in his woodshop
behind the couple's southern
"It was a life that a lot of people look for
and never find," she says. "It was a
She knows much of that life is gone and has the added worry of how she'll make it financially.
Her husband left on September 11 at 4 a.m. for his 65-mile drive to the Pentagon. He was a retired Navy radioman chief and a civilian technical manager for the Chief of Naval Operations. He received both a military pension and a civilian salary.
For now, Woods has to get by on about a third of their former income. The pension checks also have stopped. Workers' compensation and a life insurance benefit of twice his annual salary are "nowhere near enough," she says.
Woods got about $15,000 in short-term aid from
the Red Cross and Federal
The help has been welcome but doesn't solve her long-term needs.
"As far as other benefits and fundraisers you see on TV, I haven't heard anything," she says. "All this money is being advertised. I haven't seen any of it and don't know where to go to get it. I'm not in it for the oney, but no one has volunteered to do that for me."
She has to pay a "substantial" mortgage on a 4-year-old home. She might get a job but hasn't worked in 10 years. She doesn't want to burden her children.
"I'll make it," she says. "I will not live in the standard of life that I lived in before he passed on, emotionally or physically."
At about 3 p.m. Sunday, Woods received the call she's both dreaded and longed for. A casualty officer said her husband's remains had been identified. She leaned back on her couch and covered her eyes with her hands. She called her children, two of whom just left for homes in Charleston, South Carolina, and Falls Church, Virginia. "They found Dad," she told them quietly.
The identification expedited a burial at Arlington
National Cemetery, set for
He spent 22 years on active duty and retired from the Navy in December 1984 as a chief radioman, said Betty Woods, his wife of 29 years.
"The only jobs he ever had was with the Navy, active duty or civilian service," she said. "He spent his whole life taking care of his country.
"He loved his country," she added. "He would not want to give into this terrorism. He would want the U.S. to stand together, to stand firm."
Woods also loves to fish and work with wood, his wife said. They have three children and three grandchildren.
His office is in an area of the Pentagon that had just been renovated. His wife said she knew from watching television reports Tuesday that the airliner had crashed into that part of the building. She said that when she didn't hear from her husband, she held out hope that he was OK, "thinking maybe he was working to help everyone else."
But at 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, Navy officials came to her house and told her her husband was officially missing.
Yesterday, she said, "My husband's car was
Photo By M. R. Patterson, 27 June 2003