Black Hawk County

Seaman 2/c Albert Leo Sullivan
Link to battleship:

USS The Sullivans

Sister of the 5 brothers becomes a WAVE

Mrs. Albert Sullivan takes job in War Plant

Drama of Juneau's Sinking





  GM2 George Thomas SULLIVAN

  December 14, 1914 - November 13, 1942

  COXN Francis Henry "Frank" SULLIVAN

  February 18, 1916 - November 13, 1942

  S2C Joseph Eugene "Red" SULLIVAN

  August 28, 1918 - November 13, 1942

  S2C Madison Abel "Matt" SULLIVAN

  November 8, 1919 - November 13, 1942

  S2C Albert Leo SULLIVAN

  July 8, 1922 - November 13, 1942

Happy When They Joined Cruiser

These were happy days for the five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, shown above, just after they had been placed in the crew of the cruiser Juneau when it was commissioned last February. Left to right they are, Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George. They are the sons of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan, 98 Adams street. The Juneau was sunk last Nov. 14 (1942) in a Solomon battle, and the five Sullivans were officially reported missing Tuesday.

Solomons Area Battle Casualty Lists Include Waterloo Quintet, 20 to 29

Waterloo’s five fighting Sullivan brothers Tuesday were officially listed by the U. S. Navy department as “missing in action” after sinking of the cruiser Juneau during sea battles in the Solomon island area during November.

Sons of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan, 98 Adams street, the five boys, 20 to 29 years old, had enlisted in the naval service here Dec. 28, 1941.

They boarded the U.S.S. Juneau, new $13,000,000 light cruiser, at its commissioning in Brooklyn, N.Y., in mid-February last year—all five with the same ship at their own insistence.

On “Missing” List
To be carried on the Navy’s missing list until evidence of their true fate has been uncovered the five brothers included:
George Thomas, 29, gunners mate, second class.
Francis Henry, 26, coxswain.
Joseph Eugene, 23, seaman, second class.
Madison Abel, 22, seaman, second class.
Albert Leo, 20, seaman, second class.

Of the five, only one, Albert, was married. He is the father of a 21 month-old son, Jimmy, now with his mother and grandparents at 98 Adams.

The Navy department’s telegram of condolence to the parents Tuesday gave no details of the Juneau’s loss, listed as Nov. 14.

Admiral Sends Message.
Sent by Rear Admiral Randall.  High naval officials at Washington D.C., told the Courier by long distance telephone Tuesday noon:

“Loss of the five Sullivan brothers ranks as the greatest single blow suffered by any one family since Pearl Harbor and probably in American Naval history.

“In peacetime, the Navy has allowed brothers to serve together but in wartime it has been Navy policy to separate members of the same family.

“Presence of the five Sullivans aboard the U.S.S. Juneau was at the insistence of the brothers themselves and in contradiction to the repeated recommendations of the ship’s executive officer.

“Serving together had been one condition of their enlistment.”

Jacobs, chief of naval personnel at Arlington, Va., the message read:

“It is with deepest regret that the Navy department confirms the report that your five gallant sons—George Thomas, Francis Henry, Albert Leo, Joseph Eugene and Madison Abel—are missing as the result of enemy action on Nov. 14, in the service of their country and in the performance of duty.

“They will be carried in the missing status pending evidence as to their true fate.

“The officer in charge of the U. S. recruiting station at Des Moines, Ia., acting as emissary of the Navy department, has been requested to convey this sad news to your personally and he reports that he has accomplished this mission.

“The Navy department extends sincerest sympathy to you in your great sorrow and to the many young friends of your sons who share your grief.—Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, chief of navy personnel.”

Breaking the news to Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan, their daughter, Genevieve, 25, and to Mrs. Albert Sullivan Monday, while here on his secret mission, was Lieut.-Comdr. Truman Jones, officer in charge of the Iowa recruiting office of the Navy at Des Moines.

Accompanying him here were a medical corps lieutenant commander and a chief petty officer, also from the Des Moines Navy office.

Official confirmation from Rear Admiral Jacobs followed hours later.

Cling to Slim Hope.
At their home here, Mrs. Sullivan, 49, her daughter and Albert’s wife Tuesday clung to what they considered “slim hope” that the five brothers would be found, safe.

“All we can do is hope now,” the mother said. “Maybe they’ll all show up somewhere, some day soon.

“But if they are gone, it will be some comfort to know they went together—as they wanted—and gave their lives for their country and victory.”

The father, an Illinois Central railroad freight conductor, 59 years old, was about to leave for his “run” Monday when the Des Moines naval officers arrived to reveal the news that the five sons were missing.

Father Leaves on Rail Run.
Altho grieved by the report, the father chose to report for work and left the city. He was expected “in” late Tuesday afternoon.

He had not been advised of the arrival of the Navy department’s telegram of confirmation.

The five brothers, two of whom had served previous hitches in the Navy, resolved on Dec. 7, 1941, the day of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor that they would get into the fight with the Navy—all together.

If they had to die in battle, Mrs. Sullivan said, they made up their mind they wanted to go as one.

Ship Explodes and Sinks.
Press dispatch accounts of the Juneau’s sinking Tuesday revealed the cruiser, damaged in a night battle, was “steaming toward base when an explosion sent it to the bottom.”

The reports went on:
“It just happened all at once and the Juneau was gone,” according to an officer who witnessed the sinking from a nearby ship.
The officer added:
“She had been steaming along, making between 15 and 20 knots, when she exploded and sank within a matter of seconds. I could see particles of her flying high in the air.”

The Navy announced, in its communiqué about losses of the 11 war ships, that the Juneau’s commanding officer, Capt. Knute Swenson, of Provo, Utah, was officially listed as missing.

Difficulties over enlistment of Albert, who was married and the father of a young son, delayed induction of the five until Jan. 3, 1942, at Des Moines.

Out to Avenge Pal.
It was then the five declared they were out to avenge the death of a “pal,” Bill Ball, of Fredericksburg, Ia., who had been killed during the Pearl attack.

The two older Sullivans, George and Francis, had known him while in the service from 1937-1941.

After preliminary training at Great Lakes, Ill., naval training station, the Sullivans moved to San Diego, Cal., for advanced schooling and then, with the launching and commissioning of the new U.S.S. Juneau, the five were assigned to this speedy light cruiser.

Requested Joint Assignment.
Assignment of the five, it was understood, was arranged especially by the Navy at the request of the brothers themselves.

After Atlantic patrol duty, nature of which was never fully disclosed to there parents here, three of the Sullivans were home on leaves during late May, George, Madison and Albert having short visits at their home.

Called back to active duty, the five apparently sailed for the southwest Pacific with the Juneau, to participate in at least one major battle—that in which the cruiser was sunk by enemy action, while the Japanese fleet was taking a terrific blasting to lose 28 warships sunk and another 10 damaged.

Last Letter Dated Nov. 8.
The last letter the Sullivan’s parents received from the boys was dated Nov. 8, 1942, written “at sea.”

It gave no indication, of course, where the boys were nor where they were heading.

The Sullivans’ Christmas presents to their boys were sent Nov 1—about two weeks before the Juneau’s loss.

There was no news Tuesday on what disposition had been made of the gift boxes, nor letters mailed recently.

Worked in Packing Plant.
Before induction, the Sullivans—born and reared in Waterloo—had been employees of the Rath Packing company.  Their sister, Genevieve, is now also a plant worker at Rath’s.

The five brothers were all members of St. Mary’s Catholic parish.

Since 1938, Mrs. Sullivan has been active in the Navy Mothers club, organized in Cedar Falls and now made up of scores of Black Hawk county and Waterloo mothers who have boys in the Naval service.

Shortly after induction of her five sons, Mrs. Sullivan received, through Mayor Ralph B. Shippy, a special honor emblem from the Navy department, as a recognition of her sacrifice of all five sons to the Naval service.

It was presented her March 4, 1942.  Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan were honored later during a Navy relief society benefit production at the Hippodrome on Dairy Cattle Congress grounds.

Will Christen Ship.
Last autumn, Mrs. Sullivan was invited by Secretary of Navy, Frank Knox, to officiate at christening of a tugboat at a Portland, Ore., shipyard at some future date.

Asked if she intended to take part in the Portland christening, in the face of hew own worry now over her sons, Mrs. Sullivan smiled Tuesday through her tears and declared:

“Of course I’ll take part.  The boys would want it that way, I know.”

Heavy as their hearts must have been, neither Mrs. Sullivan nor her daughter gave way to emotions Tuesday.

“Keep Your Chin Up”
“The boys always wrote at the end of their letters, ‘Keep your chin up,’” Mrs. Sullivan recalled, “and now’s a good time to do just that.”

The wife of Albert, deeply affected by the report of his being missing at sea, remained in her room Tuesday morning with her son, Jimmy.

With the addition of the five Sullivan brothers to the list, Waterloo Tuesday had 17 men in various branches of the armed services listed officially as missing.

Since Pearl Harbor, Waterloo has had 10 men in service officially reported dead.

The five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, Navy men reported missing Tuesday following the sinking of their ship, the light cruiser Juneau, Nov. 14, in the battle of the Solomons, are shown here in a family picture taken shortly before their enlistment a year ago.  Back row, left to right, are Albert, 20; George, 29; the boys’ maternal grandmother, Mrs. George Abel; Madison, 22; Joseph Eugene, 23; and Francis, 26.  Seated on the davenport are Albert’s wife; then the boys’ mother, Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan; the father, Thomas F. Sullivan holding Albert’s son, James; and Genevieve, 25, sister of the five boys. The picture was taken in the family home at 98 Adams street.

Sullivan Home at 98 Adams Street, Waterloo

This picture of Albert Sullivan and his wife, the former Katherine Rooff, was taken in July, 1940, a short time after their marriage.  They were married in Waterloo on May 11, 1940.  Albert and his four brothers, members of the United States Navy, are missing in action.

Jimmie Sullivan (above), who will be 2 years old on next Feb. 13, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Sullivan, is shown above in his sailor suit and cap.  Jimmie’s father and his four uncles, all members of the United States Navy, are reported missing in action.

Source: Waterloo Daily Courier, January 12, 1943 (photographs included)

Iowa Honor Roll

These Iowans have given their lives for their country. Each man pictured here has been killed in combat or has died in a prison camp. This group includes the five Sullivan brothers of Waterloo, who went down with the Juneau. The fourth line under each picture indicates the area in which the man last served. Further Honor Roll photographs will be carried here later.

Source: The Des Moines Register, Sunday, February 27, 1944 (photos included)