AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – A true American hero and one of Springfield’s own is being honored with the highest noncombat medal by the United States Department of the Navy.
Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan, who was raised in Springfield, was killed in an ISIS-inspired terror attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 2015. He was killed while trying to save the lives of fellow Marines.
His tight-knit Irish family remembers Tommy, who would have turned 42 the day after St. Patrick’s Day. His father, Jerry Sullivan, spoke to 22News about the painful loss, “Difficult day. We went to the cemetery and things, it was hard. Then a sense of pride comes in when we know this medal is coming in May. It takes over a little bit of the grief.”
Gunnery Sergeant Sullivan and Staff Sergeant David Wyatt will be awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, the United States Department of the Navy’s highest non-combat medal for heroism.
Sullivan’s family said the outpouring of support locally and nationally helps. His brother, Joseph Sullivan, said, “If we wear one of his shirts in an airport, someone recognizes him or someone knew him or served with him. It all makes it easier.”
Thomas was a decorated soldier, who wore his medals proudly.
His sister, Dianne Sullivan-Caron, told 22News, “You know, he would dress up on Sundays in his full dress blues and say, ‘Look at the new one!’ You know, it’s something he would do on Sundays at my grandmother’s house.”
He was the recipient of three Purple Hearts, one posthumously. His Father, Jerry Sullivan, told 22News, Tomas found an IED factory while serving in Iraq.
His sister, Dianne, said her brother was a protector. “Nobody would ever be left behind me, left out of any game on a playground, no not at all, so it definitely followed through from childhood to adulthood to his career in the Marines.”
The Sullivan family will travel to Chattanooga, Tennessee on May 7th to accept the Navy and Marine Corps Medal, on behalf of Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan.
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