Thirty Years Ago, Daniel Wassom II, Was Shot To Death During A Routine Motor Vehicle Stop
Thirty years ago this week, Milford police officer Daniel Wassom was shot and killed during a routine motor vehicle stop with his K-9 partner General present.
Master Sgt. Dan Wassom II braved the tornado that ripped through Vilonia north of Little Rock to shelter his 5- and 7-year-old daughters Lorelai and Madison during a terrifying ordeal that lasted around an hour and 45 minutes. Lorelai would later recount to anyone willing to listen how her father saved her life.
Early Life and Education
Master sergeant Daniel Wassom II was known by family and friends as Bud. A true family man, his life revolved around loving others first – including being an attentive husband and father for Sydney and Lorelai whom he deeply cherished.
As the tornado swept through Vilonia, Wassom was in his hallway with his wife and daughters. A heavy piece of lumber fell, forcing Wassom to bend over to protect his youngest daughter – taking an incredible risk that ultimately resulted in him receiving a blow to the neck that ultimately proved fatal for him.
Wassom was an instructor loadmaster at 189th Airlift Wing and deployed in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. A portion of a road on Air Force Base Little Rock now bears his name.
Wassom was an Air Force career C-130 Hercules loadmaster evaluator and instructor. Throughout his time with the Air Force, Wassom flew more than 2,000 hours in flight training “countless” students according to his commanding officer at 189th Airlift Wing. Furthermore, Wassom deployed with both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom missions from Kuwait.
He was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and loved spending time with his wife and daughters as well as serving his country in the Air Force. According to his family, he cherished every moment spent together.
Wassom’s parents still reside in Cabot, Arkansas where their home was devastated by the tornado. His father works on C-130s at Little Rock Air Force Base only 20 minutes away; an honorary street at Little Rock Air Force Base was named in honor of Wassom; additionally two awards including The Airman’s Medal were bestowed upon the family in memory of Wassom.
Achievement and Honors
Wassom was a C-130 Hercules loadmaster evaluator who served in Kuwait during 2010 and Afghanistan for Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. Additionally, his mother told Air Force Times that Wassom taught countless students to fly the aircraft.
His parents remember him as being an irrepressibly mischievous individual who enjoyed playing baseball and throwing Frisbees around with his daughters, according to Suzanne Kemple Wassom’s account. Suzanne Kemple Wassom held close their two daughters: Sydney and Lorelai Sophia Wassom in her arms at all times, according to Suzanne Kemple Wassom’s words.
At Little Rock Air Force Base, his family were awarded with the Airman’s Medal and part of Little Rock Air Force Base Street now bears his name in his memory. Colonel Robert Ator, commander of 189th Airlift Wing said Wassom lived his life by giving back and will never be forgotten.
Family of Dan Wassom, a master sergeant in Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing, have remembered him fondly. A GiveForward campaign launched in his honor offers testament to this.
On the night of the tornado, Wassom took his wife Suzanne and daughters Sydney (then 7 years old) and Lorelai (5 years old) into what he thought would be safest area – an interior hallway. There he placed himself over Lorelai as a semi-cocoon while Suzanne took care of Sydney.
Wassom gave his life protecting his family, an act that inspired others. For this valiant act he received posthumously the Airman’s Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal and Arkansas Distinguished Service Medal.
Wassom was known as “Bud” to his family, friends and Air Force coworkers alike; he took great joy in loving his wife and daughters above all else. On April 27th when a tornado tore through Vilonia Arkansas he died protecting Lorelai as debris hit their house – only for it to land fatally on his neck as one piece of lumber came crashing through.
Master Sergeant Wassom had served for twelve years as a loadmaster with Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing as part of their loadmaster team. A member of Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, he leaves behind his wife Suzanne Kemple Wassom; two daughters Sydney and Lorelai; parents Daniel and Pamela Wassom of Cabot as well as grandmothers Sharon Peters of Cabot and Carol Arnett from Oklahoma.