From tragedy to triumph
By Lance Cpl. Trevon S. Peracca
| Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton | September 19, 2012
TEMECULA, Calif. --
Approximately 11 years ago, at 9:59 a.m., the collapse of the World Trade Center’s South Tower took the life of Stephen Siller, a fireman from Squad 1 of the New York City Fire Department on 9/11.
The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation partnered with the Gary Sinise Foundation and awarded a brand new “smart home” to a brave Marine and his family in Temecula, Calif., at the exact moment of Siller’s death 11 years later.
“The Gary Sinise Foundation and the Tunnel to Towers Foundation have come together to give something special to someone who has given a piece of themselves in the spirit of those who have given their lives in service,” said actor and philanthropist Gary Sinise.
On Oct. 23, 2010, Cpl. Juan Dominguez, a rifleman with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, was on a routine patrol through the streets of Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when he crossed paths with a pressure-plated improvised explosive device that changed his life forever.
“Some people want to slide by in life, but I wanted to give back, Dominguez said. “I wanted to be the volunteer so the people around me that didn’t want to, didn’t have to.”
This smart home was built specifically to accommodate the Dominguez family and features countless amenities, including automatic lowering cabinets and shelves, automatic window shades, lights, locking doors, music, climate control, home security features and much more; all controllable from Dominguez’s iPad.
“This means a lot to me,” said Dominguez, who lost his right arm and both legs during combat operations. “This has given me an opportunity to regain my independence, not only for myself, but for my wife Alexis, who gave up everything to come take care of me.”
Dominguez said all of the amenities were nice, noting that the automatic lowering cabinets were one of his favorites. He also expressed excitement at no longer having to jump on to the counter and do “balancing acts” on his legs to access the cabinets.
The Dominguez home is one of a kind, and among all the features, Dominguez was rather thrilled about his new personal indoor elevator to accommodate the times he is not using his prosthetics.
“Juan Dominguez, a resilient Marine with a never quit attitude, will finally have a place to call home that is specifically designed just for him,” said Sinise in an e-mail. “I am a proud member of a team of people who have been inspired by Juan's courage and who have been privileged to play a part in making sure that he knows that his sacrifices are not forgotten and that he never has to worry about shelter for his family. It's a fitting tribute to fire-fighter Stephen Siller, that on the day he gave his life 11 years ago, another American hero receives the keys to this special home. The Gary Sinise Foundation is proud to partner with The Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation on our Building for Americas Bravest project for Cpl. Juan Dominguez.”
Dominguez said he would do it all over again if he had to.
Transitioning to the next step in life, Dominguez plans to go back to school in the near future and pursue a degree in music, with plans to open his own recording studio someday.
“I love the Marine Corps, I love what I did, I love being around my brothers, I love 3/5 and there is no better group of warriors I’d rather be around,” Dominguez exclaimed.