S: Operation Tyler- July 27th, 2012
3: As we start sketching Tyler, he launches into a moment-by-moment account of being wounded on Dec. 3, 2010, in the Sangin district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan. He remembers everything. Everything. First, hit by two shots. Feels like two punches to the chest. Second, in slow motion, his body kicks backwards. Immediately upon hitting the ground he notices his feet flopping open. He can’t feel or move his legs. The training kicks in and he instinctively starts undoing his own gear; he knows they’re going to have to work on him. Corporal Albright gets to him first, followed by Hospital Corpsman Second Class Miller. Sergeant Castillo helps carry him to a trailer attached to a Humvee, and they lay him on top of another corpsman. For the next hour, during a torturous ride to the battalion triage, the corpsman under him wraps his arms firmly around Tyler, acting as a combination cushion, back stabilizer and pressure bandage. (In the retelling of some of these incidents, first names of the soldiers on hand were not always available.) Another Marine is also shot, a sniper, but his wound is far less serious; a through-and-through at the shoulder. The sniper holds Tyler’s hand during the bone-jarring ride to the triage. He’s glad to be alive, and grateful to have these guys as buddies. There’s never any taint of “why me?” in his words or the tone of his voice. | Still in the Fight: A New Reality By MICHAEL D. FAY- The New York Times (The Opinion Pages) March 15, 2011, 9:00 pm
6: Operation Tyler' builds home for wounded Marine by Mike DeFranco Posted: 05.14.2012 at 6:35 PM For wounded Marine Corps veteran Tyler Steven Huffman, the word “can't” is something you'll never hear him say. "Saying 'I can't' is pretty much the same thing as giving up, to me. But, you know, I can do the same thing everyone else can. It might take me longer to do it, or different way to do it, but I'll get it done. One way or another, I'll get it done," said Huffman. Like helping out with the up-keep of Apple Creek Farms in Centertown. Two years ago, Tyler was paralyzed from the waist down while serving in Afghanistan. Then last November, when he was invited as an honored speaker at a local military banquet, he says was literally dumbstruck upon showing up. "There was a huge crowd, and it kind of threw me for a surprise. That's when I found out about Operation Tyler". Operation Tyler started as an effort by his friends and several community members to help Tyler retro-fit his home, but even they didn't expect what happened next, as a local builder offered Tyler a brand new house on a lot of his land. "I...I really couldn't speak. I was so surprised and kind of dumbfounded by it - that someone would actually give a lot of land, that I was extremely grateful." And from there, a local organizer, Darren “Bear”Rueter , says the flood gates of support were busted wide open. "The donation level is unbelievable. This community once again has stepped up to the plate to help someone in this community.” said Rueter. “The phones have literally rung off the wall." For those that can't help with the construction, but still want to help with the cause, Tyler's friends have come up with a t-shirt designed to help him raise money for his new home. "We're selling the shirts for $12 a shirt or 2 for $20. All the proceeds for this will go to Operation Tyler." To Darren and all the others helping along the way, Tyler says he's constantly overwhelmed with gratitude on a daily basis. "The people that are helping out and the people that I've met in person, I can't thank them enough for what they're doing. I mean, you can say 'thank you' and I want to say more, but it's just one of those things, there's just no words to express how I feel about them coming to help out."
9: "Operation Tyler" Breaks Ground for Wounded Marine Posted: May 18, 2012 2:11 PM by Danny Spewak JEFFERSON CITY - The building of a $400,000 "smart home" for a wounded mid-Missouri marine officially began Friday with a groundbreaking ceremony, drawing hundreds of locals and even an elementary school to commemorate CPL Tyler Huffman and "Operation Tyler." Huffman, a 24-year-old soldier paralyzed in Afghanistan in 2010 after a sniper shot him, said he hopes to move into the home in Jefferson City by November with his wife and son. According to Chris Kuban of the "Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers" Foundation, the home will provide Huffman with handicap-accessible amenities like special doors and appliances. With a class from West Elementary in Jefferson City and hundreds of other supporters looking on during the "Operation Tyler" event, Huffman and his family dug a shovel into the plot of land to break ground. Private donations will finance the home for Huffman, partly through a concert July 27 at Apple Creek Farms. Kuban said the home will likely be around 2,700 square feet. This particular smart home is part of a nationwide effort to provide wounded soldiers with homes. The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation partnered to build three homes last year, and they are currently fundraising for homes in various states including New York, Virginia, Ohio and Georgia. Huffman said the smart home project lifts a heavy burden off soldiers' families. "You have to start all over again, start from ground zero and try and find a home. Try and find a job. Compared to the guy who comes home and he's perfectly fine," Huffman said. "For guys that are wounded like me, it's lot harder to get things done than it is for the average person."
10: The Gary Sinise Foundation & Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation Team Up to Build Homes for America’s Bravest Actor Gary Sinise is joining with the families of 9/11 victims to build ‘Smart Homes’ for our most seriously wounded U.S. service members. The project, called Building for America’s Bravest, is a joint effort between the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation. Gary Sinise and Frank Siller joined Megyn Kelly to talk about the importance of the project and how it came about. Sinise said that after our troops were deployed following 9/11, he got “very, very actively involved with supporting military charities and doing what I could to try to help people.” Frank Siller, whose brother died on 9/11 trying to help save others, said, “We know we’re at war because of what happened, not only to Stephen, but to 3,000 people that day Our men and women have picked up the torch since then, and have made tremendous sacrifices for us.” Siller continued, saying, “The ones that are coming home that are severely injured, I think it is our responsibility as civilians here to make sure that we take care of them the proper way. And, this is the least that we can do.” Sinise described the work of the program saying that through specially designed homes, they work to make the lives of quadruple amputees better.
13: Benefit Concert Raises Money for Paralyzed Veteran Posted: Jul 28, 2012 12:01 AM by Nichole Cartmell Updated: Jul 28, 2012 12:03 AM CENTERTOWN - Mid-Missourians gathered Friday in Centertown to help make life a little easier for a paralyzed veteran of Fulton. Several local organizations, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, and the Gary Sinise Foundation held a benefit concert for Tyler Huffman. The proceeds will help finish a "smart home" for Huffman and his family. The former marine contacted numerous organizations after he was disabled during his tour in Afghanistan in 2010. The Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation originally told Huffman it might be a year or more before they could help him. But community leaders stepped in, beginning Operation Tyler and offering Huffman a plot of land for his new home in Jefferson City. Huffman said he was very grateful for the community's support. "It means a lot. I can't ask for a better community to be in. It makes life on me a lot easier to have a house that is set up for me. So I mean to have this done it means a lot," Huffman said. A tribute was also given for Columbia's fallen solider Sterling Wyatt. A painting made during the opening songs was donated to Wyatt's family. In a press release, Frank Siller, Chairman of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation stated, "Our hearts and prayers are with the Wyatt family." Operation Tyler set out to raise more than $400,000 to build the new home. Huffman's smart home is about halfway finished. Huffman and his family hope to be moved in by Veteran's Day.
16: "Actor speaks about support for Operation Tyler" by Mike DeFranco Posted: 07.17.2012 at 3:17 PM Gary Sinise, perhaps best known for his role as Lt. Dan in Forrest Gump, is joining the mid-Missouri community in its support of injured Gulf War veteran Tyler Huffman. Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band are performing at Apple Creek Farm on July 27th for Operation Tyler, the organization building a smart home for Huffman, who uses a wheelchair. On Tuesday, Sinise Skyped in for a press conference to discuss his involvement in the project. "What the concerts have been able to do all around the country for these wounded warriors, is kind of be a central rallying point for the community to become aware that they have this wounded warrior in their midst," Sinise said. Sinise also fronts the Gary Sinise Foundation, which raises money for injured soldiers' needs. Chris Kuban, from Stephen Siller Tunnel To Towers Foundation, said, "It's going to be a patriotic Woodstock, is what we're calling it. But know that every dollar of your night of fun is going to go to build Tyler a house." Those in charge of Operation Tyler like the progress they've seen. Pete Adkins, a Jefferson City coach, said, "It's just unbelievable how fast they're moving along now. And with the hot weather, you think that would've slowed up down somewhat."
21: A tribute was also given for Columbia's fallen soldier Sterling Wyatt. A painting made during the opening songs was donated to Wyatt's family.
27: Wounded Hero Gets New Home ABC 17 news A local marine wounded in action is getting a new house, paid by people right here in Mid-Missouri. Corporal Tyler Huffman's story caught the eye of one Hollywood star, who came to Jefferson City to help the cause. ABC 17 was there as Gary Sinise took the stage to play and raise money for the local hero's future. A year and a half after Huffman's life changed when he was shot and paralyzed while fighting for our country, his life changed once again. This time Mid-Missouri was fighting for him. "Joy, relief, gratitude, it's made our lives a lot easier knowing that this house is going to be built," said Huffman. For he and his family the gift of a smart home from their own community is surreal. "I was expecting a little homecoming then back to a normal life, I wasn't expecting all of this," Huffman said. While he wasn't expecting it, he more than deserves it. Risking his life for our freedom, in a situation none of us can even imagine. A sniper bullet pierced his chest in 2010, barely missing his heart but crippling his spine. A moment his injuries will never let him forget, in a fight he still believes in. "I don't regret it one bit," explained Huffman. "I would go back and do it again." It's that determination to serve our country that inspires so many to now give back to him and there's no question Tyler is worthy of this honor. It is an honor worth half a million dollars given by both strangers and friends. Frank Siller with the Tunnels to Towers Foundation helped with the project. "Building homes for our most severely wounded troops across the country the ones that have paid such a sacrifice protecting our country," Siller said. On Friday thousands dressed in red, white, and blue all with the same goal to support Tyler Huffman. The night was all about being there for the ones who served, even the people who didn't come home. "90 percent of the people are complete strangers, and that right there just tells you a lot, complete strangers come up and say thank you and its overwhelming," Huffman said. Before Friday Huffman and the Wyatts were also strangers. The Columbia family lost their son Sterling in Afghanistan earlier this month, and during the concert a special memorial for sterling surprised the family. The portrait of the son lost was a tearful reminder about the sacrifice for our freedom. Something Huffman hopes our community won't ever forget. Huffman said, "What the people did in this community I think needs to pass on through every community, through every state every town." The smart home for Huffman will be equipped with technology that he can control from an I-pad. It will also have wide doorways and shelving to reach the height of a wheel chair. For Huffman this house is giving him the freedom and ability to live his life and do things for himself, for his wife, and for his young son.
32: Building for America's Bravest, a partnership between the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation, in cooperation with the Jefferson City Community and Operation Tyler plan to dedicate a custom designed, specially adapted Smart Home to 24-year old, paralyzed veteran, USMC Cpl. (Ret.) Tyler Huffman and his family in Jefferson City, Mo. A ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Huffman's new home is slated for Monday, Nov. 12 at 1:30 p.m. The general public is encouraged to attend. Jefferson City officials along withrepresentatives from the Foundations, donors, dozens of contractors, the builder, Signature Homes, Inc. and many others will host the November 12th celebration to dedicate the Operation Tyler project honoring American Hero, Cpl. Tyler Huffman who was paralyzed after being shot in Afghanistan by a sniper in December 2010. Tyler Huffman states, "I'm truly blessed and honored that these organizations are coming together to help give me more independence through this smart home." He further stated, "I'm most looking forward to the 'Man Cave.' But, I'm also looking forward to easier accessibility throughout the house with things such as hardwood floors, which makes it easier for me to get around verses carpet where I'm currently living. I sincerely want to thank the Jefferson City community for embracing me so much even prior to me moving here. In addition, I would like to specifically thank the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation. I will be proud to call Jefferson City, home." Huffman was given a plot of land by local Jefferson City philanthropist, Joe Twehous. Mr. Twehous and Coach Pete Adkins have been driving this effort at the community level. Many local contractors have also come to the table with commitments to donate materials and services to complete this project. Some of the local companies include: Signature Homes, Frank Twehous Excavating, Farmer's Concrete, Cole Co. Industries, Nathan Voss Concrete, Mainline Fire Protection, Scruggs Lumber, Mid-AmericaTruss, Quaker Window, Rusk Home Improvement, Mid-West Block and Brick, Jerry Raithel Plumbing, Winnelson, DKB, Ken Sandbothe Plumbing, Stokes Electric, IBEW Local 257, B&H Well Drilling, Bemboom Heating, Martellaro Marble and Granite, Sheetmetal Workers Local #36, and many, many, more. "We are honored that the Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise chose Signature Homes, Inc. to build this house," said Scott Schaeperkoetter, President of Signature Homes. "Our team was committed to working with our subcontractors, vendors and donors to create an exceptional home for an extremely deserving American hero." The ribbon-cutting ceremony will consist of a one-hour program with speakers from the Jefferson City Committee called Operation Tyler, The Tunnel to Towers Foundation, the Gary Sinise Foundation, Signature Homes and a few other special guests that helped fund Operation Tyler. In 2011, The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation and the Gary Sinise Foundation partnered in efforts to build Smart Homes for 3 Quadruple Amputees. In 2012 they have partnered on 15 additional homes for severely injured post 9/11 veterans from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. To date they have completed three homes. On Veterans Day 2012 (Nov. 12, 2012), the Foundations will be dedicating 2 "smart homes" – one in Jefferson City for Cpl. Huffman as well as one in Fredericksburg, Va. for USMC Sgt. (Ret.) John Peck. Says Sinise, "All of us at the Gary Sinise Foundation and the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation are grateful to the Jefferson City community for supporting our Building For America's Bravest Program. This "smart home" will honor Tyler's heroism by providing him with a more independent lifestyle which will, in turn enable him to lead the best life possible with his wife and son. I also want to thank everyone for coming to the July 27th, Lt. Dan Band Benefit Concert for Tyler Huffman which helped us raise the funds needed to build Tyler's home." Adds Frank Siller, Chairman of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, "We can't thank the wonderful citizens of Jefferson City and those across the country that helped make this home possible for Tyler. Thanks to their generosity, we are able to give Tyler a place he can call home, on VeteransDay!" | 2nd Missouri "smart home" to be dedicated to severely injured Marine Nov. 9, 2012 3:40 p.m.
38: To my son, When you told me that you were being deployed to Afghanistan a chill went up my spine because I knew of the horrible things that were happening over there, but you assured me that you would be ok and you would come home to us. Well, something did happen but you did come home to us and for that I thank God everyday that you did. You are an amazing young man and I could not be more proud of you for what you have become and for everything that you stand for and for what you did for your country and your fellow service men and women. So I just want you to know that I love you very much!! love mom | Brother, We have been through alot together. I know you may hate me sometimes and we aggravate each other but I will always be here for you and if you ever need something you know all you have to do is ask. Love you forever and always. Shelby | Well, for starters I love you! Always have and always will you little mamacita. You truly are my hero and i'm sure you have taken that spot in other people lives also. I have never seen anyone have to overcome so many obstacles and still be grateful everyday for what they have. I couldn't think of anyone better to look up to. I love you bro." -Karli | well what to say, what to say!!!! =D WE LOVE YOU . very proud of you because after all you're keeping your spirit up and continuing living life. I'm very thankful with God for letting you be with us, makes me happy that Matthew has his dad around and that you'll be around to see and experience with me the journey of him as he grows up. thankful with God for that. we have been through so much good and bad but we still together that all it matter and well see what the future has for us but well make the best of it... WE LOVE YOU don't forget that.. x.o.x.o your wify and your son
39: Tyler, I'm honored to be able to introduce myself as Tyler's mom. Although you didn't come into my heart until 3 1/2, it has been a joy to watch you grow, share life experiences with you and be by your side has your life has brought you to we where we are today. You are a hero to so many with giving so much for your country. Truly an exceptional young man! Please remember your family and friends are the blessed ones to be able to call you our son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin & best friend. Love ya, bud! "Mom" | Tyler, The journey you chose took an abrupt turn on December 3, 2010, and brought new challenges for you and your family to overcome. However, on November 12, 2012, all the strains of obtaining finances for your family a home and the pressures of keeping one in good repair were taken care of. You were blessed by friends, community and God with a beautiful home that meets your many needs. Now with this need met you can relax in the comfort of your new home and reassess where you have been, where you are today, and above all, begin the on-going process of making decisions with your family for the future. As I have heard many times, “The sky is the limit”. However, with God there is no limit. Ty, we are proud of you and look forward to what God has for you in the days ahead. (Jeremiah 29:11) We love you, Grandma and Grandpa Williams | We are very proud of you Tyler and all that you have accomplished. We are so glad that you are still with us and enjoying your life with your wife, son and that amazing new house. I'm sure the pictures don't do it justice. Can't wait to see it and you of course. We love you all! Love Grandma Vicki and Jerry | Tyler, We have always been proud of you. Even if we don't have the same blood you have been a part of this family since you were 3 and its has been a honor to call you Grandson. Thank you for everything you have done. With love, Grandpa Bill and Grandma Jeanette.
40: Tyler, From the day I got the call to the present, I can't be more thankful that you are my nephew and am very proud of all that you have done for this country. You are an exemplary person and a true hero. I am proud to be your aunt. I love you Tyler. God Bless you and your family. Love Always, Aunt Dee | My Bubba, I am so happy that you are still here with us. I couldn't be prouder to be your big sister and I am proud of the man you have turned into. Your a great inspiration & I love you very much. Love, Sara | HONOR, COURAGE, STRENGTH AND LOVE. TAKE ALL YOU HAVE LEARNED AND BEEN THROUGH INTO THE NEXT STEP OF YOUR LIFE AND MAKE IT GREAT! LOVE, DAD