Tunnel to Towers: A Brother’s 537-Mile Walk To Never Forget

Frank and Shannon at Walk Kickoff

Frank Siller taking off from Arlington County First Station 5 on Sunday. Photo taken on Aug. 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of Tunnel to Towers/Mike Jardeleza and Teyonte Best.

Frank Siller departing from Arlington County Fire Station 5 on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation/Mike Jardeleza and Teyonte Best.

Surrounded by nearly 500 fellow walkers, Frank Siller took the first steps of a 537-mile march Sunday morning with his brother on his mind. Siller runs the Tunnel to Towers Foundation, a nonprofit service group focused on veterans and first responders. The organization is named for a route into Manhattan — from the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel entrance to the site of the World Trade Center — that Frank’s brother, Stephen Siller, ran in full firefighter turnout gear on the morning of 9/11 before he died when the towers collapsed.

Frank Siller, who founded Tunnel to Towers soon after 9/11, dubbed the endeavor the Never Forget Walk. He started Sunday with a private wreath-laying ceremony with his family at the Pentagon, then joined the other participants to begin the walk at nearby Arlington County Fire Station 5, one of the stations that responded to the Pentagon on 9/11. He plans to walk to New York, where he’ll finish the trek by retracing his brother’s final footsteps, ending at the 9/11 Memorial.

Siller plans to finish on Sept. 11, 2021.

Tunnel to Towers Never Forget Walk

Hundreds of people joined Frank Siller as he set off on his 537-mile journey from Arlington County Fire Station 5 on Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation/Mike Jardeleza and Teyonte Best.

Hundreds of people joined Frank Siller as he set off on his 537-mile journey from Arlington County Fire Station 5 on Sunday. Photo taken on Aug. 1, 2021. Photo courtesy of Tunnel to Towers/Mike Jardeleza and Teyonte Best.

“As the 20th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, I’m walking to remember not only my brother, Stephen Siller, who gave his life that day, but also every first responder who paid the ultimate price fighting to protect their neighbor on 9/11,” Siller said in a statement to Coffee or Die Magazine. “The Never Forget Walk honors their heroism and sends their families our deepest gratitude and prayers for the loss they’ve endured. For these heroes and their loved ones, we must never forget.”

Stephen Siller was a firefighter assigned to Brooklyn’s Squad 1 and had just finished a night shift on the morning of the attacks. He was headed toward a golf outing with his brothers when the North Tower was struck. He immediately returned to his fire station and grabbed his 60 pounds of turnout gear.

After driving his own truck toward the towers, he found the Brooklyn side of the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel blocked. Parking his truck, he ran the length of the nearly 2-mile tunnel and then the half-mile to the towers in full firefighter bunker gear. He then made multiple trips into the towers until he was killed when the South Tower collapsed.

Read Next: Tunnel to Towers To Read All 7,059 Names of Service Members Killed Since 9/11

Joshua is a staff writer for Coffee or Die Magazine. He has covered the 75th anniversary of D-Day in France, multinational military exercises in Germany, and civil unrest during the 2020 riots in Minneapolis that followed the death of George Floyd. Born and raised in small-town South Dakota, Joshua grew up playing football and soccer before serving as a forward observer in the US Army. After leaving the service, he earned his CrossFit Level 1 certificate and worked as a personal trainer while earning his paramedic license. Joshua went on to work in paramedicine for more than five years, much of that time in the North Minneapolis area, before transitioning to a career in multimedia journalism. Joshua is married, has two children, and is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in multimedia journalism. His creative outlets include Skovlund Photography and Concentrated Emotion, which is where he publishes poetry focused on his life experiences.
More from Coffee or Die Magazine
With the US and India deepening their military ties, the Himalayan mountain chain marks another geopolitical flashpoint with China.
With its iconic folding wings and six machine guns, the Corsair proved exceptionally lethal in World War II and beyond.
Letter bombs mailed to the US Embassy in Madrid and Spanish government offices triggered elevated security at Naval Station Rota.
The Air Force will officially reveal the replacement for the B-2 stealth bomber on Friday, Dec. 2.
When he was released, after 28 months as a prisoner, he thought he would face charges. Instead, he was told he’d won the highest award for valor.
A Connecticut man faces up to 20 years behind bars for trying to join Islamic State group terrorists.
The annual matchup was first played in 1890 and has since become something much bigger — and more important — than just a football game.
A blaze erupted on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln, injuring nine sailors before it was extinguished.
The encounter highlighted a trend of increasingly aggressive Chinese military behavior in the region.
Marines and sailors see the landing assault ships Tripoli and America as light carriers.