Foundation pays mortgage of Onslow County Gold Star family

HOLLY RIDGE, N.C. (WITN) – The Tunnel to Towers foundation announced on Veterans Day that 35 families that would receive funding to cover mortgage payments, including a family from Onslow County.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation was inspired by the story of Stephen Siller, a New York firefighter who ran through the tunnel between the twin towers giving his life to save others during 9/11.

Ashley Kundrat and her children Ethan and Aleah were among the families on the receiving end of the foundation’s gift.

Kundrats are a Gold Star family after their husband and father, Marine Staff Sergeant William “Billy” Kundrat, and 14 other Marines and a Sailor died after a KC-130 plane took off from Cherry Point Air Station on July 10, 2017, and crashed in Mississippi after the Marine Corps said the plane had a midair mechanical failure involving a propeller blade.

Ethan Kundrat, William and Ashley’s son, reflected on the day of the horrible news.

“We were at my grandparent’s house and they came and asked my mom’s friend where we were because they had to tell us. It did feel surreal. Growing up he was deployed a lot so it didn’t feel really weird having him gone until it was for so long,” he said.

Ashley and daughter Aleah reflected on the day they received the news about the mortgage payoff.

“So we came home and he [Ethan] was like mama has a surprise for us, but I don’t know what it is. I opened the door she was like ‘guess what?’ And I was like are we going to Disney World?” said Aleah.

“They called me this week on Tuesday and they said they would like to pay off our mortgage,” said Ashley.

The family thanked Andrew McClure, an outreach coordinator for the foundation for the gesture.

“You’re very welcome,” he responded. “And that’s the most important thing. You can have a lot of material losses and this and that. Your home is your hub. Unfortunately, we hear far too much ‘are we going to be able to keep our house?’ And children should not have to think like that so we’re really honored to be able to do this.”

When asked what this means to her, Ashley Kundrat said, “I miss him a lot. Not only did I lose my husband but he really was my best friend. It’s hard for me just trying to comfort them and let them know that he is still here with us. Everyday. It’s kind of unbelievable and it just ensured that our family will forever be able to have our family home and we appreciate that.”

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation will have helped a total of 450 families and has already given resources to 200 families of fallen first responders, wounded warriors, and Gold Star families.

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