PEYTON, Colo. - The automatic doors and smartphone-controlled features are pretty cool. But for retired Air Force Senior Master Sergeant Israel Del Toro, Jr., nothing beats the absence of a mortgage.
The veteran, who retired in 2019, expressed his immense gratitude this week, after he, his wife and his son received a free "smart home" from the Tunnel to Towers Foundation last Wednesday.
Del Toro is also just grateful to be alive after being given just a 15% chance to live following an explosion in 2005. While serving in Afghanistan, his Humvee was hit by an IED, leaving more than 80% of his body with severe burns.
Still, he persevered, motivated by his strong desire to continue serving his country. He walked out of the hospital and became the first fully disabled airman to be permitted to re-enlist. He even won a gold medal in the shot put at the 2016 Invictus Games.
Needless to say, Israel Del Toro, Jr. is a hero, even if he says that is hard for him to hear.
"You know, I still feel weird receiving this, and I still, to this day, feel weird [when] people call me a hero," he told me, virtually. "Pat Tillman, you know, gave up his NFL career to go serve his country. You know, I came back. So it's still tough. You know? I'm not gonna lie, so tough. You know, accepting this, but also your people calling you a hero."
"If you aren't a hero, I don't know who it is," I said.
In the above story, you can see the heartwarming ceremony that the Tunnel to Towers Foundation held for him as he cut the ribbon on his new home.