Park Ranger Beaten And Robbed Of Obama Coin Honoring Her For Being Oldest In Her Field
United States’ oldest park ranger, Betty Reid Soskin, 94, was awakened in her Richmond, California, home around midnight on Monday, June 27, 2016, by a man who attacked and robbed her. Among the items he took was a commemorative coin President Barack Obama gave her during the Washington National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony she attended in December of 2009.
The park ranger for the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park, found a man standing over her bed with a flashlight, and when she reached for her mobile phone to call for help, he grabbed it from her hands and punched her on the face. The perpetrator dragged Soskin down a hallway during which she was beaten several more times as she screamed.
People reports that the park ranger survived by getting herself to a bathroom after having been savagely beaten. She locked herself inside until the man left the home with her iPad, laptop computer, jewelry, cell phone, and several commemorative coins, including the one from Obama. She recalled her ordeal for the press.
“I fully expected he was going to kill me. He doubled up his fist and hit me a couple of times on the sides of my face with all his might. I don’t even like to look at myself in the mirror at this point because I still have a couple black eyes and one is still marked. My lips were split in a couple of places.”
According to NBC News, Soskin received the special coin embossed with the presidential seal from President Obama when she was honored before Christmas in Washington, D.C. Aware that the park ranger had been beaten and robbed, the White House reportedly notified Soskin’s boss, Betty Reid of the National Park Service, that the president will soon send a replacement coin.
Tom Leatherman, superintendent of the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, spoke of the White House reaction to the incident. U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell reportedly informed Obama of the crime, and the president responded with the assurance that he will send Soskin another commemorative coin bearing the presidential seal. Leatherman commiserated with Soskin who also works for him.
“It’s pretty disturbing. It’s been pretty emotional for all of us who work with Betty.”
According to SF Gate, Leatherman was among the first people Soskin contacted after the home invasion incident took place. He has visited the park ranger several times this week to make sure she was okay, because paramedics who came to her home after she’d been beaten, said she refused to go to the hospital for additional care.
“She’s got some bruises. She doesn’t really want to see people because she doesn’t really want people to see her like that. She’s doing fine, physically. But emotionally, it’s difficult.”
A backgrounder by Independent reveals that Betty Reid Soskin, the great-granddaughter of slaves, worked as a shipyard clerk during the war and later owned a record shop with her late husband, before she joined the park service at 85. She is currently a park ranger at the Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond. Her main function at the time she was beaten in the home invasion, was to conduct tours explaining the work of women in factories during World War II.
The NBC account detailed the movements of the unknown assailant who broke into the park ranger’s second-floor apartment through her sliding glass door around midnight on Monday. He reportedly punched her several times and dragged her out of her bedroom into the hallway where she was beaten some more.
Asking anyone with information about the attack to call detectives, Police Lt. Felix Tan of Richmond, California, said the park ranger received medical attention for the bruises on her face from having been beaten, and is recovering at her Hilltop-area home. Soskin has not returned to work at the Rosie the Riveter WWII National Home Front National Historical Park, where she gives tours five days a week. Tan shared the following sentiments.
“This is a vicious, heinous crime. This is vicious enough for anyone at any age.”
Betty Reid Soskin of San Pablo, California, who introduced President Obama at the National Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony, finds solace in the replacement coin promised her by the White House. But as the oldest park ranger, robbed, beaten, and still standing, she has galvanized the attention of the whole nation to her unique plight.
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]