Saving The Sullivans: A Call to Action
The Fletcher-class destroyer USS The Sullivans (DD-537) was launched at Bethleham Steel on 4 April 1943, sponsored by the grieving Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan, mother of the five late Sullivan brothers, and was commissioned five months later. The brothers Sullivan had requested (“We will make a team together that can’t be beat,” one had written) to be ship out together and joined the light cruiser Juneau (CL-52) at the New York Navy Yard on 3 February 1942, just before that ship’s commissioning, and were all lost just before Thanksgiving in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
The destroyer received nine battle stars for World War II and two for Korean service. Laid up in 1965 at Philadelphia, in 1977, she and cruiser Little Rock (CG-4) were processed for donation to the city of Buffalo, N.Y., where they now serve as a memorial.
However, 78 years of water have not proved kind to her hull and today The Sullivans is in serious risk of sinking. The Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Military Park is urgently seeking $100,000 to fund emergency repairs of her hull.
About 20 years ago I had a neighbor whose brother had served with the Sullivans on the USS Juneau. When the Juneau was torpedoed, he survived, and was posted to another cruiser, the USS Indianapolis. He was killed when the Indianapolis was sunk coming back from delivering the bomb. My neighbor attended several USS Indianapolis reunions, and everyone there told him his brother was killed in the magazine explosion and not by the sharks. It was believable, since he was a gunner’s mate, but that’s what I would tell his brother, too.
What a tragic tale. Thanks for sharing Old 1811. Don’t be a stranger
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