Playground built in remembrance of tornado victims

Playground built in remembrance of tornado victims
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: Pam Wassom)
(Source: Pam Wassom)

VILONIA, AR - Wednesday marked the two year anniversary of the EF4 tornado that tracked 41 miles through Mayflower, Vilonia and parts of Region 8.

Named the deadliest tornado of the year across the nation, this tornado not only demolished homes but it claimed the lives of 16 Arkansans.

In Vilonia, one neighborhood in particular saw extensive damage from the storm.

Although new homes replaced homes destroyed by the tornado, old foundations and twisted tree branches serve as reminders of the storm that devastated so many.

In the midst of the painful memories, a playground stands at the end of the street.

This playground is in memory of Master Sergeant Daniel Wassom II, who served in the Air Force.

Daniel lost his life while protecting his 5-year-old daughter and although he has passed on, his family remembers him for the loving father he was.

"You know he was one of the best fathers you'd ever imagine," said Pam Wassom, Daniel's mother. "He did everything with his family and with those girls. He loved his wife and he loved those girls to death… just the best father ever, and he proved that with his last breath. You know, by protecting them."

The playground was built where the Wassom family once lived as a way for the community to remember Daniel and others lost in the storm.

"There were a lot of volunteers that came together, including myself and a lot of guys from the Air Force National Guard," said Daniel Wassom, his father. "And a lot of good folks from right here in Vilonia that helped put that together."

Right where the playground stands, Daniel's family has started a tradition that will keep his memory alive forever.

"So we're out here today because this is the second anniversary of his passing on and we brought a couple of balloons and a couple of roses," said Pam Wassom. "You know, it's hard coming here because this is the exact spot where he passed on."

The Wassom family, along with many others, still deals with the pain of losing loved ones, but the community sticks together as they continue to rebuild.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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