CHARLOTTE, N.C. — "Within three weeks, we knew we were in love."

Nancy Gass met her husband, Army Green Beret, Jerry Gass, in 2010.

Kira Ortega met her husband, Sgt. Clint Ruiz the same year. Both men served in Afghanistan.

"He told me, ya know, if worse comes to worse, and it would happen, that I needed to be sad but just not forever," said Ortega.

"Tell me what that was like to be home and know that he was in Afghanistan," asked NBC Charlotte's Sarah French.

"I think it was easier for me than most just because I had been in the military so I understood how everything worked," Ortega said.

But on October 25, 2012, her worst nightmare became reality.

"He was pulling security on top of the roof with a fellow service member and an Afghan soldier, and the Afghan soldier turned and shot my husband in the head and then shot the other guy and ran off," said Ortega.

Her son, Caleb, was just a year old.

Gass lost her husband on August 3, 2014.

"I just couldn't believe it," she said.

He suffered a massive heart attack while on a mission.

"He was 33 and perfectly healthy," she said. "He was the medic; he was the senior medic so that always worried me if he went down, who's going to save his life?" Gass said.

She immediately turned her focus from a career investigator to her family.

These women didn't know it at the time, but they both moved and were living in the same apartment community when the organization Tunnel to Towers reached out. 

"Tunnel to Towers has changed my life in every way," said Gass.

The foundation ensures that we never forget by honoring the sacrifices of our first responders and military heroes as well as their families.

"Just the love that they have for us is amazing," Gass said.

Both Gass and Ortega were given mortgage-free homes.

"The house is a way for us to start anew," Ortega said.

"It's not just the house it's like the biggest act of love from someone that didn't know me didn't know my husband," said Gass. "Now Tunnel to Towers is the family to both of us."

The Tunnel to Towers Tower Climb is Saturday at 8 a.m. They'll be climbing the Duke Energy building. Both Gass and Ortega will be there.