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'He will forever be in my home': Marine plane crash widow receives mortgage-free home on 9/11

At 9:59 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, the South Tower collapsed. It's also when New York firefighter Stephen Siller lost his life responding to the attack. Now, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation donates mortgage-free homes in Siller's name to the families of fallen first responders and military members.

BARNESVILLE, Ga. -- It's hard to believe it's been 17 years since the nation was rocked by one of the worst terror attacks in U.S. History.

At 9:59 a.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, the South Tower collapsed. It's also when New York firefighter Stephen Siller lost his life responding to the attack.

Now, the Tunnel to Towers Foundation donates mortgage-free homes in Siller's name to the families of fallen first responders and military members. Tuesday at 9:59 a.m., the keys to a new home were handed to a Georgia Gold Star widow who lost her husband last year.

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Marine Corporal Collin Schaaff

Under an American Flag and down a driveway in Barnesville lined with flashing lights, first responders escorted Sarah Schaaff and her two daughters to their new home.

On July 10, 2017, Sarah lost her husband and their girls lost their father. Marine Cpl. Collin Schaaff died when his military transport plane crashed in Mississippi.

At the time Willow was 1 year old and Sarah was pregnant with Guinevere.

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"He was the Marine you wanted around. But he was also the friend you wanted around," said Cpl. Adam Luxon. "He was there to help like he was joyed to help. It was part of his heart. It was what he did to make himself happy."

After skydivers landed with the key to the Schaaff's new mortgage-free home, John Hodge of the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation presented Sarah with the key and a piece of the World Trade Center Towers.

Siller, a New York firefighter, and Hodge's cousin, died when the South Tower collapsed.

"You know even though it was 17 years ago, it feels like it was just yesterday, so I apologize. It is a tough day," he said.

Stephen Siller

A 50-foot American flag was drawn back Tuesday at 9:59 a.m., revealing Schaaff's new home. She raised a flag in the front yard and then walked through the front door for the first time.

"This has been a very difficult time for me, but we are working through it, and now I get to have a home that I get to have him still be a part of and still be a part of our children's lives, no matter what," she said.

On the wall of the first room are photos of her husband, Collin.

"He will forever be in my home. He will forever be everywhere in my home continuously and always," adding that she was honored to receive this gift on 9/11.

"Given something on such a special day that means so much to everyone, I know it would mean a lot," she said. "And it does mean a lot to me and it is something I could never say thank you enough for."