STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Seventy-five years ago, George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert Sullivan of Waterloo sailed out of New York harbor on the USS Juneau. They and nearly 700 shipmates never returned. A Japanese torpedo sealed their fate just 10 months later.
On Thursday, the current U.S. Navy ship named for those five brothers, their only granddaughter and friends returned to that same harbor to remember and reflect on their sacrifice and that of countless others.
The USS The Sullivans returned for a special commemoration at the place where it was commissioned 20 years ago on a Staten Island pier. It is across the harbor from where the Sullivan brothers’ ship, the USS Juneau, was commissioned 75 years earlier in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The Juneau was sunk following the naval Battle of Guadalcanal.
Kelly Sullivan, granddaughter of Albert Sullivan, the only brother who married, is the official Navy sponsor of the current USS The Sullivans, as her grandmother, Alleta, was of the first namesake ship, now decommissioned and docked at a Buffalo, N.Y., military park.
“I have years of special memories on this ship. And the most important thing to me is the crew. And I want you to to know how much you mean to me and how important you are,” she said, her voice breaking. “To all of you sailors you need to know there’s so many people who honor and respect you. ... Being a sponsor of a ship is the best gig I ever had, and I hope I did you proud. This crew inspires me to be the best that I can be, because I want you to know how much I admire and respect you."