A little girl with a pink bow in her curly hair gazed at the coffin of her father yesterday. A widow stood before a crowd of hundreds and told them that losing the love of her life had carved a canyon of sorrow in her heart. And men and women in starched dress blues, their backs erect and chins held high, filled pew upon pew of a chapel in Woodbridge and wept at the loss of a brother many of them never knew.
Later, in the crisp winter wind at Quantico National Cemetery, mourners buried James M. Feltis III, a military veteran and the first Pentagon police officer to be killed in the line of duty. Feltis, 41, died on Valentine's Day, five weeks after he was run down by a suspected carjacker who sped across the Pentagon parking lot toward a traffic booth where Feltis was working.
James M. Feltis III, who was run down by a vehicle in the Pentagon parking lot last month, was buried at Quantico National Cemetary.
(Jahi Chikwendiu -- The Washington Post)
_____Phoenix Rising_____ Interactive graphic: The Pentagon rises from the ashes of September 11; offices are rebuilt.
For a police force that escaped loss when a terrorist attack hit its headquarters Sept. 11, 2001, Feltis's death was a solemn reminder that threat in the line of duty comes not just from bombs or guns or airplanes.
The memorial service and eight-mile procession to Quantico ended more than a month of hospital visits and prayers that Feltis, a 12-year veteran of the Pentagon police force, would pull through the injuries he suffered Jan. 11. He never regained consciousness.
"One of the things that these horrible things teach us is that you can't take life for granted," Richard S. Keevill, chief of the Pentagon police, told mourners at Hylton Memorial Chapel. "It can come and go in a second."
As the sun rose yesterday, police cars and motorcycles streamed from the north and south on Interstate 95 toward the chapel. At 7:45 a.m., Feltis's coffin arrived in a silver hearse, and an honor guard hoisted flags as the coffin was carried inside.
During the next three hours of visitation, somber officers filed into the chapel toward the open casket. Photos of Feltis as a boy and as an adult with his daughter, 6-year-old Mary Elizabeth, flashed silently on screens overhead.
In the foyer, officers wearing the shoulder patches of the FBI, Alexandria police and Loudoun County Sheriff's Office chatted in hushed tones. Pentagon police officer Don Brennan said it was hard to accept that Feltis, who pulled victims out of the burning Pentagon on Sept. 11, died as he did.
"I wish I was out there with him," Brennan said, shaking his head. "Maybe I could have changed the outcome. I don't know."
After the call went out early Jan. 11 that an officer was down, the Pentagon police force kept daily tabs on the ups and downs of Feltis's condition. Several officers kept vigil by his bedside when his wife of 18 years, Mary, went home at night. And they donated hundreds of pints of blood in hopes that it might help him survive his head wound, fractured leg and internal injuries caused by the blow of a Cadillac.
There were times when it looked good, Lt. Robbie Turner said. But when word came that Feltis's leg would be amputated, they knew the situation was grave, he said.
"He fought a valiant battle," Turner said.
Feltis was struck when a man fleeing Alexandria police in a stolen car raced the wrong direction up a Pentagon road. Feltis tried to stop the car, but the driver accelerated into him before crashing into a guardrail, authorities said.
The suspect, Ossie Larode, 22, was indicted on attempted murder and other federal charges before Feltis died.