Tunnel to Towers Foundation pays mortgage on fallen service member's Crestview home

The Gonzalez Family is one of 50 to have mortgages paid in full by Tunnel to Towers

Special to Gannett | USA TODAY NETWORK

CRESTVIEW — The Tunnel to Towers Foundation has paid, in full, the mortgages on the homes of 50 fallen first responders and Gold Star families, including the family of U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez of Crestview.

7th Special Forces (Airborne) Master Sgt. Jose J. Gonzalez

Gonzalez died in the line of duty on Aug. 21, 2019, serving during Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, as a result of wounds sustained from small arms fire while engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan.

During his military career, Gonzalez deployed seven times, twice as a Marine in 2003 and 2005, and as an Army infantryman in 2009. As a Green Beret, he deployed to South America in 2014 and 2018, and to Afghanistan in 2016 and 2019.

Gonzalez left behind his wife, Brenda, and their two children.

Last week's announcement is the largest one-day mortgage payoff in Tunnel to Towers history, and was made possible by the outpouring of support the foundation received as America observed the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. All across the country, Americans showed their compassion for our nation’s heroes and support for The Tunnel to Towers Foundation through the organization’s Never Forget programs (Never Forget Walk, Never Forget Concert, NYC 5K Run and Walk). 

“This year, Americans came together to remember the incredible loss of life that occurred 20 years ago when evil struck at the heart of our great nation," said Tunnel to Towers CEO and Chairman Frank Siller. "The Tunnel to Towers Foundation promised to never forget what happened on that day and so many people across the country have joined us on our mission of doing good by giving back to our heroes, both living and fallen.

"Thanks to the generosity of this great nation, the Gonzalez family and 49 additional families will never have to worry about making another mortgage payment, and will always have a place to call home,” he added.

The 50 homes are in 18 different states stretching from coast to coast, and will help the families of fallen police officers, firefighters, deputies, and service members of nearly every branch of military service. 

The 50 homes paid off belong to: 

  • 20 police officers, Including 15 who responded to Ground Zero and lost their lives to 9/11 illness.
  • 12 firefighters, including five who responded to Ground Zero and lost their lives to 9/11 illness.
  • 1 sheriff’s deputy.
  • 1 state trooper.
  • 1 conservation officer.
  • 6 U.S. Army members.
  • 3 U.S. Navy members.
  • 3 U.S. Marine Corps members.
  • 3 U.S. Air Force members.

To learn more about these heroes and see a full list of the families receiving mortgage payoffs go to T2T.org. 

On Sept. 11, 2001, FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller laid down his life to save others when America was attacked. For 20 years, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation has honored Stephen’s legacy by supporting the heroes who continue to risk life and limb in the line of duty. 

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation provides mortgage-free smart homes to our nation’s catastrophically injured veterans and first responders, and mortgage-free homes or mortgage payoffs to Gold Star and fallen first responder families with young children.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation promised to deliver 200 homes this year in honor of its 20th anniversary. By the end of the year, Tunnel to Towers will have delivered 450 homes across its programs. 

For more information on Tunnel to Towers’ mission to support America’s veterans, fallen first responders and Gold Star families, go to T2T.org and consider donating just $11 per month.

Follow Tunnel to Towers on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @Tunnel2Towers.