Last December, Betty Reid Soskin was honored at the White House for her service as National Park Ranger—at 94, she is the country’s oldest ranger—and given a commemorative coin by President Obama. Early in the morning June 28, that coin was stolen from her when she was attacked and robbed in her Richmond, California home.

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The Los Angeles Times reports that Soskin awoke to a man standing near her, holding a flashlight. When she reached for her cell phone, he snatched it from her, dragged her from bed and down the hallway, Soskin screaming all the time.

“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,” Soskin recounted to KTVU-TV.

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Soskin managed to lock herself in the bathroom, arming herself with an iron she plugged in while in hiding. Thankfully the intruder did not seek her out again, but he did steal a number of personal possessions, including the coin embossed with the presidential seal. Although the White House assures her that the coin will be replaced, Soskin maintains hope that the original will be located and returned to her.

Soskin wrote about her December visit to the White House in her blog and emphasized the coin’s significance. “In my pocket was the only evidence that it wasn’t all a fantasy—the presidential seal—to be shared with my co-workers,” she reflects.

Soskin works at the Rosie the Riveter WWII National Historical Park in Richmond, California, helming tours. As she guides visitors through the premises, she describes the lives of women working in factories during wartime. The great-granddaughter of a slave, Soskin herself joined the workforce during World War II as a file clerk. She began working at the National Park at age 85.

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Richmond Mayor Tom Butt posted a statement voicing his anger over this appalling affair.

“Park Ranger Betty Soskin is arguably Richmond’s most famous resident, and an assault on her is an assault on us all,” he wrote. Soskin is beloved and admired far and wide for her tenacity and “amazingly strong spirit.”

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You can support Betty Soskin as she regains her footing by donating to a fund launched by the Rosie the Riveter Trust.


Image via Getty.