Ruth Beatrice Allen Dittman, 93, passed away on Friday, October 11, 2013 in San Antonio, Bexar Co., Texas. She was a loving mother, grandmother, aunt and friend to many.
Mrs. Dittman was born on February 17, 1920 in Humble, Harris Co., Texas and was the daughter of John Kirby Allen, III and Alice Saphronia Standley Allen.
She attended Robert E. Lee High School in Baytown, Texas and Texas State Teachers College (now known as Texas State University) located in San Marcos, Texas.
Ruth began dating Henry "Pelly" Dittman when he was a senior at Texas A&M University. In 1941, she received a call from Hawaii and the long distance operator had her paged in the Texan Theater in Baytown. On the other end was Henry Dittman who was calling to pop the question… and, her answer was "yes." The very next day, Ruth packed her bags. She and her sisters drove from Baytown to San Francisco, CA where she took a ship to Hawaii.
On July 19, 1941 at Hickam Field, Oahu, Hawaii, she was married to Lieutenant Henry Dittman, U.S. Army Air Corps. Her wedding dress was hand-made by Henry's commanding officer's wife from a silk parachute. The couple exited the church under a traditional arch of crossed sabers.
Mrs. Dittman, an Army Air Corps bride of only a few months, was living in the Officer Quarters at Hickam Field on Sunday, December 7, 1941. A few days before, her husband had flown one of nine Boeing B-17D Flying Fortresses to Clark Field, Philippine Islands. During the attack, the Japanese aircraft machine gun strafed the Officer Quarters. She told the story many times about her experiences that day: "I awoke to the sound of windows rattling and wall mirrors falling to the floor. Our quarters were literally shaking. I got out of bed and with my roommate ran outside. When we got outside, I looked up and Japanese planes were like bees swarming. They were so close I could see their long white silk neck scarves flying from their open cockpits."
Between the first and second attack waves, Mrs. Dittman made her way to the Hickam Field Base Hospital to help care for the wounded. She remembered, "Then the second attack came. One bomb exploded within 20 feet of the hospital but it wasn't hit. Part of the roof was torn away by machine gun fire." Mrs. Dittman said that during the first day and night and into the next, "it all seemed like a dream, a nightmare. We couldn't believe it. Everything that anyone did was automatic. There was little reasoning or logic behind it. It was terrible."
She related, "Within a few minutes after the attack was launched, despite the confusion of the civilian population and the bombs dropping and machine guns pumping death into the soldier barracks, the army men went to work."
Later, she was sent to the temporary hospital set-up at the Base Gymnasium. She remembers, "Around 11 a.m. they started evacuating the civilians, but I didn't go. I stayed three days at the base gymnasium to help with the wounded. Throughout Dec. 7th and the next few days, she worked, without regard to her own personal safety, to assist with the care of the wounded and dying American servicemen who were brought in from all-over the island to this triage center.
Mrs. Dittman's patriotic service is a testament to what every American should strive to emulate in a large-scale emergency situation that threatens the security of our country due to an enemy attack.
On Christmas Day, December 25, 1941, she and other military dependents in Hawaii were evacuated aboard an Army transport ship convoy to San Francisco, CA. She traveled by automobile with her shipboard roommate, Mrs. G. M. Earl, to San Antonio, and then from there by train to Houston, arriving on January 6, 1942.
Upon arriving home in Baytown, she immediately went to work in the war effort. She became the first married woman to be hired at Humble Oil Baytown Refinery (Humble is now known as ExxonMobil).
Mrs. Dittman continued to serve her country as a military wife. She supported her husband in his many prestigious military assignments throughout the world. Colonel Dittman served as the commander of numerous large Air Bases including: Castle Air Force Base near Merced, CA; Hanscom Air Force Base near Bedford, MA; and Patrick Air Force Base near Cocoa Beach, FL. After Colonel Dittman's retirement, they returned to Baytown, Texas where she continued to live until a few years ago.
Mrs. Dittman was an At-Large Member of the Daughters of the American Revolution, Texas Star Chapter, Daughters of the Republic of Texas and the Oran M. Roberts Chapter 440, United Daughters of the Confederacy.
She had a passionate love for Houston. The city, founded by her ancestors, She was a lineal descendant of Rowland and Sarah (Chapman) Allen whose sons were Augustus Chapman (A.C.) Allen (wife, Charlotte Baldwin Allen), Samuel Lewis Allen, John Kirby Allen, George Allen (wife, Harriet Elvira Fenley), Henry Rowland Allen, and, Harvey Hawley Allen.
She is survived by her sons, Major Henry Dittman, Jr. (U.S. Air Force, ret.) and Ralph Ernest Dittman, M.D. and wife, Terry Huffington; four grandchildren Mary Ruth Dittman, Henry Mitchell Dittman, Sydney Celeste Allen Huffington Dittman and Lindsay Michael Allen Huffington Dittman. She is also survived by a number of nieces and nephews, including John P. Mooney, Jr, Col. Donna Ruth Mooney (U.S. Air Force, ret.), and Myrteel Mooney Ward.
She was predeceased by her husband Colonel Henry Dittman (U.S. Air Force, ret.), parents and siblings, John Eugene (Johnny Gene) Allen; Raymond Samuel (Ray) Allen; Lecel Donna Allen Harbour; Mary Mildred Allen Howard; Dorothy Myrteel Allen Howell; Edith Ada Allen Gaylord Harbour; Ella Marguerite Allen Mooney Jones and Hope Allen Harris.
Pursuant to her wishes, Mrs. Dittman was cremated and her ashes will be interred next to her parents at the Hill of Rest Cemetery located in Baytown, Texas.
To view the online obituary and post a tribute to the family, visit earthmanbaytown.com.
Arrangements are under the direction of Earthman Funeral Home, 3919 Garth Rd., Baytown, TX 77521; (281) 422-8181.