(May 2, 2014) In the midst of helping fellow Arkansans recover after devastating tornadoes last weekend, the state’s National Guardsmen have been dealing with loss of their own.
One airman lost his life protecting his family. And a soldier in the Army National Guard lost her home and her belongings.
Master Sgt. Dan “Bud” Wassom II was killed Sunday in Vilonia, Ark., when a tornado tore through his house. According to an article in the Air Force Times, Wassom died shielding his 5-year-old daughter, Lorelai. Lorelai, his wife Suzanne and their 7-year-old daughter, Sydney, survived.
In the article, relatives paint a picture of a man who loved his family, his country, and old cars. For 12 years Wassom had been a loadmaster in the 189th Airlift Wing and had deployed to Kuwait a few years ago. The local FOX station also reports he had deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Wassom’s mother, Pamela, told the paper that at the hospital after the storm, “Lorelai told anyone who would listen that her father saved her life.”
Sgt. Jennifer Champion, a soldier in the Arkansas Army National Guard, also helped save lives Sunday. According to FOX, she rode out the storm with her kids in a neighbor’s storm shelter. Reports say that after emerging from the shelter to see people injured and her home destroyed, she relied on her training.
When interviewed by the station, Champion said she began triage and looked for things to use as backboards and tourniquets. She talked about her 22-year-old neighbor, Jeff Hunter, who FOX notes is from an Air Force family. Hunter was killed by falling debris from the storm.
While Champion and her family survived, most of her family’s possessions were destroyed.
The post chapel at Camp Robinson is collecting donations to help Guard families affected by Sunday’s tornadoes. For more information or to donate, please call Gina Hurt at 501-212-5625. Fundraising website Giveforward also has pages up for the Wassoms and Champion.