Shelley A. Marshall
Hometown: Marbury, Md., USA
Occupation: Budget analyst, Defense Intelligence Agency
Location: Ground, Pentagon
"They were some of the first real nice china teacups she bought. There are four, one for each season, but one of them is with her. And it was the one in which there was a male and a female together. . . . It just sort of reminds me of the evenings we had together. That�s hers. I'm not going to buy another one. I'll leave the set incomplete, which I guess is sort of ironic, because there's three of us left." --Donn Marshall, husband and father of their two children
Sept. 11 started out like any other day for Donn and Shelley Marshall. They woke up and got their two children ready for day care. They drove to work in separate cars but followed each other during their one-hour commute from Charles County, stopping for gas and for breakfast at a Burger King.
Two hours later, a hijacked plane plunged into Shelley's office at the Pentagon, ending her life after 37 years and narrowly missing the day-care center where their children, ages 3 and 20 months, were.
Shelley A. Marshall was a budget analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency. It was a job she loved, a job she worked hard to get and a job she was exceptionally good at, her husband of seven years said. "When others would slack off, she did more work," he said.
But her greatest love was her family. After long days at work, she would drive an hour home, have dinner with the family, get her children's things ready for day care and read the kids to sleep. Donn Marshall, 36, believes that some divine intervention kept that plane from crashing into the day-care center.
"If it came down to a choice, I know what choice she would make," he said.
Shelley grew up in Vienna and graduated from George Mason University. She spent more than a dozen years with the DIA, working her way up from administrative officer.
The couple met 10 years ago when Donn joined her office. Years later, they bought a house in Marbury. It was a fixer-upper. The Saturday before the attack, they had their first and last family dinner of grilled hot dogs on their newly built patio.
Three days later, Donn, an analyst for the DIA in Crystal City, found himself racing to the Pentagon when he heard that it was on fire. He found his children as they were being evacuated. Shelley wasn't with them.
"As soon as I saw them, I knew something was wrong," he said. "She would have gone straight for them."
For days, Donn, his family and his in-laws waited for news about her. They called the Department of Defense, the FBI and local politicians to try to get information. On Friday, Donn got the official word that Shelley was considered missing.
From his mother's home in West Virginia, Donn recalled the last time he saw his wife. They had dropped off the children. They said goodbye, but they did not kiss as they usually did. Shelley had just applied a new coat of lipstick and didn't want to smudge it, so she air-kissed him instead.
"I'm going to regret that forever," he said.
-- Nancy Trejos
Source: The Washington Post, AP and washingtonpost.com
The profiles in this feature were written in the months following Sept. 11, 2001.
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A day after the 9/11 attacks a makeshift memorial was created on the Arlington Memorial Cemetery fence. Seven years later, the first 9/11 memorial is opening.