Vandals Destroy OKC Playground Dedicated To Fallen Soldier

Saturday, April 19th 2014, 11:04 pm
By: News 9

A playground built to honor the life of a fallen soldier is now in shambles. The church that owns the property discovered the wreckage on Wednesday evening.

Community members are stunned anyone would deface a church playground, especially one in honor of a soldier who died in Iraq seven years ago.

"I knew that parts would be broken and things would happen, but I really did not think that people would be so malicious to destroy it," said Keith  Sossamon, a former member of South Lindsay Baptist Church for 32 years. "When I pulled up and saw it, I had tears in my eyes."

A playground was ripped in pieces, the fence bent over, swing set split in half and covered in graffiti and obscenities. It was a part of the church where the late Cpl. Derek Calhoun was a member before serving in the US Army. In 2007, Calhoun was killed by a roadside bomb in Taji, Iraq at 23 years old.

His family built the playground in his honor, open to the public. Vandals have hit the playground before, but nothing like this.

"I was in total shock and I couldn't believe it because I saw Derek grow up in church. I've known him all of his life and he did a lot for the country," Sossamon said.

And this isn't the first time destruction has hit the soldier's family. Calhoun's very headstone was damaged three years ago during a shootout at Moore Cemetery. Now, the community is left to pick up the pieces, putting up yellow tape by the once-used yellow slide.

And it's still a mystery over who destroyed this special memorial.

"It was put here for a reason," Sossamon said. "And that was to be in memory of a fallen soldier and that's what hurts the most."

The playground originally cost the Calhoun family $10,000 to build. There are currently no plans to build another one and the property had no lights or surveillance cameras.

Church members along with Calhoun's friends plan to clear out all the playground wreckage in the coming weeks.