Tunnel to Towers to give pregnant widow of Marine killed in Afghanistan mortgage-free home


A recent report from Breitbart News notes that the pregnant wife of one of the fallen Marines killed in Afghanistan in late August will be receiving a “mortgage-free home” from the Tunnel to Towers Foundation.

While speaking with Breitbart News on September 4th, Tunnel to Towers Foundation’s chairman and CEO Frank Siller seemed to reference the nonprofit’s efforts to gift a home to the young widow of 20-year-old Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum:

“We’re building mortgage-free homes for Gold Star Families, and that includes any of the 13 that left behind a young family. And we do know one of them — his wife is pregnant and will be giving birth shortly.”

While not specifically saying the name of the recipient, the context delivered by Siller appears to be referencing McCollum’s wife, Jiennah McCollum.

Siller continued, adding:

“We are going to build her a mortgage-free house. And rest assured, we are going to take care of any Gold Star Family that fits that criteria.”

Jiennah had gotten married to Lance Cpl. McCollum earlier in 2021 and is expecting their child sometime in September. Her husband was among the 13 service members killed in Afghanistan by an ISIS-K suicide bomber as evacuation efforts were taking place in Kabul.

In a Facebook post from August 27th, Jiennah shared the following post about the loss of her husband and knowing their child will never get to meet their father:

“I lost my best friend. And nothing will ever make that hurt less. He would’ve been the best dad. I wish he could see how much of an impact he made on this world. I’m so proud to call him my husband. 

But I just wanted to say thank you for all the love and support I’ve received today. Times like this it’s all I can ask for. Much love to the other families affected by this. They are all heroes forever.”

Jiennah’s mother also established a GoFundMe for her daughter and her soon-to-be grandchild’s wellbeing moving forward, where her mother wrote the following in the created fundraiser:

“My heart is incredibly heavy today, in the wee hours of the morning my beautiful daughter got that knock on her door that no military spouse wants to get. Her strong, handsome, incredibly brave husband of less than a year was one of the 13 Marines that gave his life yesterday in Kabul. She’s 36 weeks pregnant and she lost her love.”

“I never got to meet him, but I will meet his baby, and I will love and spoil that baby forever. please hold her in your heart and soul because she needs it, this mama knows exactly what that feels like.”

According to reports, Jiennah’s mother, Jill Crayton, was going to meet her son-in-law this October, but sadly never had the chance to do so. She spoke with WCNC the day after the suicide bombing in Afghanistan about the impact of the loss: 

“There is military moms and dads and spouses across the world that are watching what happened yesterday, and every single one of them sat there and said ‘thank God that wasn’t my son.’ So when they see somebody who is really affected – it hits home. And it’s not right…it’s not right.”

Crayton knows all too well about what it’s like losing a spouse, saying that she too lost her husband while being pregnant and when Jiennah was just 5-years-old: 

“When I was going through that with their dad, I remember thinking ‘I hope none of my kids ever have to go through this.’ Because, you know, being pregnant – it’s not just losing your spouse – but it’s being pregnant and losing your spouse…it just throws a whole different spin on it. Something you were so excited to share with somebody, that person isn’t there anymore.”

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Say his name: U.S. Marine Rylee McCollum murdered by terrorists in Kabul. He was about to become a dad.

(Originally published September 2nd, 2021)

BONDURAN, WY- Rylee McCollum, a 2019 graduate of Jackson Hole High School, has been identified as one of the U.S. Marines killed in the suicide bombing terrorist attack in Kabul, Afghanistan on Thursday, August 26th.

According to reports, this was McCollum’s first deployment to Afghanistan. He was reportedly “manning a checkpoint at the airport when the bomb went off.” 

McCollum was from Bondurant, a tiny community about 45 minutes from Jackson.

Roice McCollum, Rylee’s older sister, said he was expecting a baby in three weeks. She said:

“He wanted to be a Marine his whole life and carried around his rifle in his diapers and cowboy boots. He was determined to be in infantry …

Rylee wanted to be a history teacher and a wrestling coach when he finished serving his country. He’s a tough, kind, loving kid who made an impact on everyone he met. His jokes and wit brought so much joy.”

She added:

“Rylee will always be a hero, not just for the ultimate sacrifice he made for our country, but for the way he impacted life around him for the better. Making us stronger, kinder, teaching us to love deeper.”

A week prior to the terrorist attacks in Kabul, Roice shared a tribute to her brother has tensions worsened in Afghanistan. She wrote:

“Some people spend an entire lifetime wondering if they made a difference in the world. But, the Marines don’t have that problem. Stay safe Rylee. We love you and you have a little peanut to come home to.”

She added a prayer for members of the military fighting to protect freedom across the globe:

“Dear Lord, we honor our veterans, worthy men and women who give their best when they are called upon to serve and protect their country.

Bless them, Lord, for their unselfish service in the continual struggle to preserve our freedoms, our safety, and our country’s heritage, for all of us.

Bless them abundantly for the hardships they faced, for the sacrifices they made for their many different contributions to America’s victories over tyranny and oppression. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.”

Wyoming Schools Superintendent Jillian Balow also released a statement on the young Marine’s tragic passing:

“Saying that I am grateful for Rylee’s service to our country does not begin to encapsulate the grief and sadness I feel today as a mother and as an American. My heart and prayers are with Rylee’s family, friends, and the entire Jackson community.”

She added:

“We will find many ways to honor Rylee for this ultimate and untimely sacrifice in the coming months and years, but for now, my arms are wrapped around Rylee’s loved ones from afar and I pray they find some comfort.”

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon (R) also spoke out after the news surfaced of McCollum’s untimely and tragic passing. He said:

“I’m devastated to learn Wyoming lost one of our own in yesterday’s terrorist attack in Kabul. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Rylee McCollum of Bondurant. Jennie and I, along with all of Wyoming and the entire country thank Rylee for his service.”

Regi Stone, whose son Eli was friends with Rylee and enlisted in the Marines around the same time, said McCollum was smart, strong, courageous and a protector.

He would often stop by the Stone’s house for dinner or stay the weekend with their son before being called to boot camp. Stone added:

“They would blow in to have dinner and we’d hang out and laugh. We might shoot guns on our property, you know, skeet or something. They loved going to hang out with other friends, building a fire … he was just a lot of fun to be around. He was just a good, fun kid to have in the house.”

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Grieving family of Marine slain in Kabul walks out on Biden: “You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry” 

(Originally published September 1st, 2021)

DOVER, DE – The grieving wife of a service member killed in the August 26 suicide bombings in Afghanistan was “disappointed” after meeting with President Joe Biden, while other family members refused to meet with Biden at all.

Jiennah Crayton is the wife of slain Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, one of 13 service members who died in the suicide bombings last week at Afghanistan’s Kabul airport.  She is expecting the couple’s first child in September.

Crayton traveled to Dover, DE, for the August 29 transfer ceremony for the remains of the service members killed, accompanied by Rylee McCollum’s sisters, Roice and Cheyenne McCollum, and Rylee McCollum’s father, Jim McCollum.

When it came time to meet with Joe Biden, Roice and Jim McCollum elected to leave the room.

Jim McCollum explained to Fox News:

“I had no desire to meet with the president….

“The way he has handled this, everything he’s done, every step along the way, has been absolutely backwards, and I don’t understand the process of how they came to the decisions that they made.

“A high school kid could make better decisions than they’ve made in this.”

Cheyenne McCollum remained in the room with Biden for a very short time.  She told Fox:

“I chose to stay with my brother’s wife.

“She wanted the chance to look [Biden] in the eye and see if it was going to be a sincere conversation, or apology, and I was able to stand about 15 seconds of his fake, scripted apology, and I had to walk away.”

She continued:

“He would not look us in the eye.

“There was not an ounce of sympathy, looking at his face.”

Jiennah Crayton was able to remain and have a discussion with Biden, but according to the Washington Post, she “left disappointed.”

The family told the Post that Biden held a “scripted and shallow” conversation with Crayton, talking to her about his son Beau’s service and death from cancer.

Cheyenne McCollum told Fox News that Biden tapped Crayton on the knee and said,

“I know what you’re going through.  I lost my son.”

Jim McCollum added:

“It was more about his son.  My son wasn’t mentioned.  

“It was his son and about him, and nothing to do with the 13.”

Roice McCollum also told the Post that the conversation with Jiennah Crayton was one that “lasted only a couple of minutes in ‘total disregard to the loss of our Marine.’”

She added:

“You can’t f— up as bad as he did and say you’re sorry,” 

Roice McCollum continued:

”This did not need to happen, and every life is on his hands.”

The McCollum family’s response to Biden’s approach to Afghanistan and the death of Rylee McCollum comes on the heels of a poignant message Rylee McCollum’s mother, Kathy McCollum, recently shared on talk radio.

On Friday, August 27, the same day she was notified of her son’s death, Kathy McCollum expressed her grief and anger on Andrew Wilkow’s The Wilkow Majority.

Referring to Joe Biden, she told Wilkow:

“That feckless, dementia-ridden piece of crap just sent my son to die.

“I woke up at 4 o’clock this morning to Marines at my door, telling me my son was dead.”

Kathy McCollum continued by sharing her view on the Biden administration’s approach to the pullout from Afghanistan, saying:

“My son did die in vain.  This was an unnecessary debacle that could have been handled properly.

“They had months and months to remove everyone from Afghanistan, and they chose not to.

“And so they sent in… six thousand troops, and my son, through the laws of statistics, my son was one of the ones who just got blown up in a freaking terrorist bomb yesterday.

Leveling criticism at the Biden administration’s response to the deaths of service members, she added:

“It is so disgusting that these people cannot even, even acknowledge the fact that they just killed my son for nothing.  

“For an ill-managed debacle of a freaking withdrawal from a country that we had total control of.”

She concluded:

“For every Democrat who cheated or voted for Biden, that left my son in harm’s way, and allowed this dementia-ridden piece of crap, who is a treasonous man….

“You did this to my son.

“And every Democrat that’s listening, you did this to my son, to prop up a disgusting human being.”

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