A Sept. 11 foundation formed to honor a fallen New York firefighter has paid off the mortgage of Chief Warrant Officer Michael Kozloski, the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hickory crew member who was killed in an industrial incident earlier this year.
In a Dec. 15 press release, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation announced that the mortgage for Kozloski’s Port St. Lucia, Florida, home has been paid in full. As part of its mission, the foundation pays off mortgages for Gold Star families of service members as well as for first responders killed in the line of duty.
Kozloski, 38, the father of four children, died Jan. 31, 2019 in a crane accident while working in the Hickory buoy yard by the Pioneer Dock in Homer.
“I was left wondering how I was going to provide for our four kids and give them the life they deserve,” Kozloski’s widow, Brienne, said in the press release. “The outpouring of support we received from the Coast Guard, family, friends and many organizations that help Gold Star families was amazing. When I heard from (foundation chairman) Frank Siller that Tunnel to Towers was going to pay the mortgage on our new home, I was overwhelmed. Thanks to Tunnel to Towers we are able to live in a beautiful home close to my parents. I will forever be grateful for this.”
Based in Staten Island, New York, the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation is named after Fire Department of New York firefighter Stephen Siller.
Siller died in the Sept. 11 attack on the Twin Towers in New York. A member of Brooklyn Squad 1, Siller responded in his truck to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
According to the Tunnel to Towers website, When Siller found the tunnel had been closed for security reasons, he put on his gear and went through the tunnel to the Twin Towers to join members of his squad. An annual race, the Tunnel to Towers 5-kilometer run, is held to honor fallen Sept. 11 heroes and to raise money for the foundation.
“Chief Warrant Officer Kozloski spent nearly two decades serving his country, working to keep us safe,” Steve Siller’s brother, foundation Chairman and CEO Frank Siller, said in the press release. “We at the Tunnel to Towers Foundation see it as our duty to honor his sacrifice by providing this security for Brienne and her children ahead of the holidays.”
Kazloski’s home is the 15th given away during the foundation’s Season of Hope, when one home will be given away daily through Christmas Eve. Through its Gold Star Family Home Program, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation provides mortgage-free homes to surviving Gold Star families with young children.
To date, the program has delivered or is in the planning stages of 30 Gold Star homes across the country.
Since its creation, the foundation has spent more than $125 million to honor and support first responders and veterans and their families.
Tunnels to Towers spokesperson Caroline Magyarits said the foundation selects families to benefit through monitoring news stories or through applications.
“Anyone who has a mortgage — you can imagine how overwhelming that can be,” she said. “I think to take that burdern off a family, a mother with young children, it’s the least we can do for a family.”
For more information on the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, visit tunnel2towers.org.
Reach Michael Armstrong at email@example.com.