MEDFORD, Ore. — The loved ones of a fallen veteran from Medford will not have to worry about paying their mortgage anymore after a Veterans Day gift from the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.
According to the foundation, it has fully paid off the mortgages of 35 Gold Star families across the country, including that of US Marine Corps Sergeant Matthew James DeYoung. Sgt. DeYoung was killed in the line of duty on February 18, 2011, by an IED in Halmand Province, Afghanistan. He joined the Marine Corps in 2004 and deployed with "Operation Iraqi Freedom" in 2006 and 2007.
Tunnel to Towers said that Sgt. DeYoung was awarded the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Meda. When he passed, he left behind his wife Aisha, and their daughter, McKenzy.
NewsWatch 12 got in contact with Aisha DeYoung on Thursday, and she gave a statement about Matthew and her appreciation for Tunnel to Towers:
Matthew loved his daughter, McKenzy more than anything. He was the best, most attentive father! I know I’m definitely biased, but it’s one of the most memorable traits about Matthew. He was the glue to our family and just as good of a big brother. He loved his friends and loved to bbq on the beach and wrestle around with his friends. He was very close with his dad who lives in PA. He would talk to him on the phone multiple times a day. He was the life of the party, bubbly, witty, charismatic, humble, and level-headed and calm in any type of chaos. His drive and dedication to always be better made me envious.
His daughter is an exact replica of her daddy to this day, not just looks but she is smart and humble and genuine. McKenzy is my best friend! I would give anything for her daddy to be here with us today! My heart will never be whole. Matthew is someone I strive to be like every day even though he is no longer here, he is still my hero and someone I admire EVERYTHING about. I just had to add that when going through pictures that that is what I think of when I reminisce. His smile keeps me afloat on my hardest days. His contagious laugh is my greatest, fondest memory, it is a trait I will never forget. Matthew’s family (as well as mine) give me strength to be strong for McKenzy. I’m blessed beyond words!
What the Tunnels to Towers Foundation does for Gold Star families is beyond helpful. There is no amount of time that could pass that will truly heal the void of our lost heroes. Without getting political I wish there were more help and resources for our Veterans who struggle day to day from being so selfless and serving this country. “We” need to do better. I appreciate the Tunnels to Towers Foundation for not forgetting the families of the ones who sacrificed everything, no matter the amount of time.
The foundation said that it is honored to pay off the DeYoung family's home in Medford.
“This Veterans Day, we’re honoring the inspiring Americans who sprang into action to take the fight to our enemies and protect our homeland in the wake of September 11th. We’re eternally grateful to the fallen heroes of the Global War on Terror and their families who live every day with the reminder of the sacrifice of their loved one. As a small thank you to the DeYoung family, we’re paying off their mortgage, ensuring they’ll always have a place to call home,” said Tunnel to Towers CEO and Chairman Frank Siller.
The announcement was made during the Foundation’s Veterans Day name-reading ceremony at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on Thursday morning.
The Foundation itself was founded in honor of FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on September 11, 2001. The organization says it works to honor veterans and first responders by providing mortgage-free homes to families.
Tunnel to Towers Foundation said it set a goal to deliver 200 homes this year in honor of its 20th anniversary, but expects to deliver 450 homes by the end of the year across its programs.