Tunnel to Towers Foundation pays off mortgages of fallen military members in Va.

The foundation, launched to honor a firefighter who died on 9/11, is marking Veterans Day by supporting seven Gold Star families

Dave Ress
The Virginian-Pilot

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — A foundation launched to honor a firefighter who died while trying to save others during the Sept. 11 terror attacks is paying off the mortgages of seven Gold Star families in Hampton Roads in honor of Veterans Day.

A Gold Star family is the immediate family of a fallen service member who died serving in a time of conflict.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation paid off the mortgages for the families of a Navy explosive ordnance disposal technician who died in Syria, an Army sergeant who died in Afghanistan, a Navy SEAL who died in a night raid on Al-Qa’ida Yemen, and four Navy SEALS who died on the way to reinforce an embattled Army Rangers unit when their helicopter was shot down.

[Read next: Tunnel to Towers Foundation pays mortgages of 50 fallen first responders, Gold Star families]

The SEALs who lost their lives when a CH 47 Chinook helicopter was shot down on Aug. 6, 2011:

  • Navy Special Warfare Operator Chief Petty Officer Kevin A. Houston, 35, of Virginia Beach. He is survived by his wife, Meiling, and his three children;

  • Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Louis J. Langlais, 44, of Virginia Beach, who is survived by his wife, Anya, and his two sons;

  • Navy Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Heath Null, 30, of Virginia Beach, who is survived by his wife, Tanya, and his three children; and

  • Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas Arthur Ratzlaff, 34, of Virginia Beach, who is survived by his wife, Andrea, and his three children. His 12 deployments included nine in Afghanistan and one in Iraq.

The foundation is also paying off the mortgages for the families of:

  • Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer Scott Cooper Dayton, 42, of Virginia Beach. He was killed by an improvised explosive device blast near Tal Samen, Syria, on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24, 2016. He is survived by his wife, Kristin, and two children.

  • Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer William Ryan Owens, 36, of Virginia Beach, who died of wounds sustained in a night raid against Al-Qa’ida in Yemen. He is survived wife of 13 years, Carryn, and their three children, ages 14, 12 and 9.

  • Army Staff Sergeant Daniel Quintana, 30, of Chesapeake, an Air Force veteran who joined the Army in order to fight on the front lines and who was killed when insurgents attached his unit in Paktika province, Afghanistan. He is survived by his wife Nilda and two children.

Across the country, the foundation is paying off mortgages for the families of 35 troops who died in the line of duty.

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The ‘Never Forget Walk’: Honoring my brother’s final journey – and all our fallen heroes

Along the 500-mile trek from the Pentagon to Shanksville to New York City, I share Stephen’s story and the Tunnel to Towers message

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation spends $72.7 million on its programs — 95 cents of every dollar collected — ranging from helping with housing for disabled veterans, and the families of first responders and American troops who lost their lives in the line of duty, as well as funding for education, counseling and other needs for children of the fallen.

The foundation was formed to honor New York City Firefighter Stephen Gerard Siller. On 9/11, he had just finished his shift at a Brooklyn fire station and was on his way to play golf with his brothers when he heard over his scanner that a plane had hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Since the tunnel from Brooklyn to lower Manhattan was blocked, he strapped on 60 pounds and ran through the tunnel to the World Trade Center. There, he lost his life while saving others.


©2021 The Virginian-Pilot

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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