HOW IT ALL STARTED

THE BENGHAZI MONUMENT

Bill Thomas, a southern California Firefighter / Paramedic, read an article about Charles Woods, father of slain U.S. Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, and his move to Bigfork, Montana. Tyrone was killed during the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya on September 11th, 2012, along with U.S. Navy SEAL Glen Doherty, U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and Information Officer, Sean Smith.

Bill contacted his good friend and Montana ranch owner, Doug Averill, about the article and they both agreed something should be done to honor these four brave Americans. They decided to build a monument in their memory in the small, patriotic town of Bigfork, Montana.

Bill and Doug spent hours searching for the perfect rock to use as a base for the Benghazi Monument that showcases a majestic, bronze eagle with a six-foot wingspan mounted on its top and a natural flat front that displays a bronze plaque featuring the names of these patriots who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Scott Plum, Flathead Lake Lodge Manager, skillfully mounted the eagle to the massive rock to complete this worthy and lasting tribute. The Benghazi Monument powerfully symbolizes honor, strength and resilience in its peaceful, idyllic resting spot in the heart of an elk preserve in Bigfork.

READ ABOUT MONUMENT PHASE II

The First Annual Benghazi Monument Ceremony

TO HONOR THE FOUR

The Benghazi Monument was created in honor of the four brave Americans who lost their lives in the terrorist attack in Benghazi, Libya, on September 11, 2012.  It was unveiled to the public on September 11, 2014, and great numbers of patriotic citizens of the Flathead Valley came to pay tribute.  It is estimated that close to 3,000 people visited the monument that first year, including military leaders, Flathead Lake Lodge guests, residents from around Montana, and many others.  In November of 2014, Mark Geist, John Tiegen and Kris Paronto, about whom the book “13 Hours” was written, came to visit the monument and remember their fallen comrades.  These three distinguished men were members of the Special Forces team who fought and survived the Benghazi attack. Since the first memorial ceremony in 2014, this day of remembrance is held every year on 9/11.  It is heartwarming to see how many people are passionate about commemorating Benghazi 9/11.  As part of our annual 9/11 Ceremony, we also recognize and salute the victims and heroes of the 2001 9/11 attack in New York, the Pentagon and United Airlines Flight 93.

STATEMENT OF SUPPORT FROM CHERYL CROFT BENNETT

JULY 9, 2021

 

Bill Thomas has a big heart and an optimistic nature, so his philanthropic pursuits come as no surprise. As a Ventura County firefighter, Bill risked his life for decades protecting others and confronting danger on a daily basis.  When I met Bill in 2014 at a Dallas, TX, fundraiser honoring my son, US Navy SEAL Tyrone S. Woods and US Navy SEAL Glen A. Doherty, I was impressed by his enthusiasm, respect for our military, and his compassion for my loss.   Since then, I have witnessed Bill’s determination and resolve to never forget Tyrone’s and Glen’s courageous sacrifices.  That determination became tangible when he and local Montana rancher Doug Averill erected the powerful and inspirational “To Honor the Four” memorial in Bigfork, MT.  Now, with the creation of this special nonprofit to help military and civilian communities, he will have a broader platform for remembering and never forgetting those who have given so much for us.  I am proud to be a supporter of such a worthy philanthropic endeavor inspired by patriotic spirit, benevolence, and a belief that all of us can work together for the greater good.  Through www.9-11honorandserve.com, anyone who wants to support important and creditable causes will have a direct channel to contribute the financial assistance needed.  Thank you, Bill and Laura, for creating this outstanding nonprofit as a means for caring Americans to “believe and invest in” our beloved nation.

Cheryl Croft Bennett, President
The Tyrone Snowden Woods Wrestling Foundation

MEET OUR

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Our Foundation’s leadership is comprised of a governing Board of Directors and Officers.  We volunteer our time and talents and bring a diverse background of experience from different industries, encompassing both private and public sectors.

Our commitment to volunteerism is something we like to call, “America at its Best.”  This vision guides us in our dedication and efforts of operating a successful nonprofit organization.  Teamwork is our priority and is essential to meeting our goal to do all that we can to serve those in need.  We are grateful for each donation received and we put 100% of donations to work in service of others.

CEO | FOUNDER

BILL THOMAS

Bill Thomas has a 36-year career in Public Safety, serving as both a firefighter and a paramedic. Along with his wife, Laura, and two daughters, Nicole and Melinda, they have developed a love of Montana, its people and what the state represents.

Bill Thomas has a 36-year career in Public Safety, serving as both a firefighter and a paramedic. Along with his wife, Laura, and two daughters, Nicole and Melinda, they have developed a love of Montana, its people and what the state represents. His passion for charitable community involvement led to the creation of the 9/11 Honor and Serve Foundation. Through his experience as President of the Ventura County Fire Department’s Widows, Orphans and Assistance Fund, Bill gained valuable insight into charitable event organization, fundraising and fiscal responsibility. Bill retired in January of 2021, and will now continue to grow the 9/11 Honor and Serve Foundation and uphold its mission of “Honor Through Service.”
CO-FOUNDER

DOUG AVERILL

Doug Averill, a native Montanan, owns generational ranches in Bigfork, Montana. He has been a community leader and founder of many philanthropic projects of regional and national significance.

Doug Averill, a native Montanan, owns generational ranches in Bigfork, Montana. He has been a community leader and founder of many philanthropic projects of regional and national significance. Doug and his wife, Maureen, have three grown children, all of whom are active in farming, ranching and the family businesses. After 44 years of operating Flathead Lake Lodge, Doug has passed the reins to the 3rd generation of Averills. He is now spearheading a new project at Wrangler Springs Ranch where younger generations can experience ranch and cowboy lifestyles and creating a special place to host veterans, memorials and charitable activities.
DIRECTOR

GERALD BYGREN

Jerry was raised on a farm in Wyoming and went to high school in Laurel, Montana. After graduating from the University of Montana, with a BS in Business Administration/Accounting, he served as President/Director of Flathead Bank of Bigfork and retired after 41 years.

Jerry was raised on a farm in Wyoming and went to high school in Laurel, Montana. After graduating from the University of Montana, with a BS in Business Administration/ Accounting, he served as President/Director of Flathead Bank of Bigfork and retired after 41 years. Jerry is very involved in his hometown of Bigfork. He participates in the Community Foundation for a Better Bigfork; The Roundup for Safety Board, as a Bigfork Volunteer Firefighter and Trustee; and on the Big Brothers & Sisters Board, among numerous other groups.
DIRECTOR

KEVIN BARROWS

Kevin Barrows has spent more than 30 years as General Manager of Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork, Montana. He plays a key role in the organizational and logistical operations in the 9/11 Honor and Serve Foundation and the Paladin Conservancy, as well as hosting at our fundraising events.

Kevin Barrows has spent more than 30 years as General Manager of Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork, Montana. He plays a key role in the organizational and logistical operations in the 9/11 Honor and Serve Foundation and the Paladin Conservancy, as well as hosting at our fundraising events. Kevin is now the Property Manager/Caretaker for a private ranch outside of Bigfork. He lives in Bigfork and enjoys the beauty and wonder of this magnificent area with his wife, Jena, and two sons, Reid and Blane.
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