On Saturday, November 12, 2022, the five fighting Sullivan brothers were honored in Poelaertplein, Brussels by the Irish in Europe Association.
Born in Waterloo, Iowa from 1914 through 1922, to an Irish Catholic family with roots in Adrigole, Co. Cork, the five Sullivan brothers – Joe, Frank, Al, Matt, and George – all joined the Navy to fight fascist forces during World War II. All stationed aboard the USS Juneau, the Sullivan brothers died in action eighty years ago on November 13, 1942, during the bloody Battle of Guadalcanal.
The Sullivan brothers were honored as part of this year’s Irish in Europe recognition event, which remembers the efforts of Irish and Irish diaspora members who died in wars and conflicts throughout the world – especially the 50,000 Irish people who died and 500,000 soldiers with Irish roots that participated in the liberation of Belgium in WWI and WWII.
Denis J. Buckley, the International President of the Irish in Europe Association and Chairperson of the Irish in Europe Remembrance Saturday Committee, referred to the longstanding Irish connection with the U.S. Navy from the time of the branches’ foundation by Co. Wexford man John Barry (who is often referred as the ‘Father of the American Navy’), The Five Sullivan Brothers were a part of this long Irish tradition of enlistment with the U.S. Navy.
Councilor Danny Collins, Mayor of Co. Cork issued a statement in honor of the Sullivan brothers: “There are times when people realise their calling in the interests of the common good; this is particularly so, in times of War,” Cllr. Collins said.
“While we commemorate the Irish of one hundred years ago with regard to the centenaries of the Anglo-Irish War of Independence and Irish Civil War, it is also most apt that we remember those with Irish heritage who gave their lives in each and every conflict in our history, both living and recalled.”
Among those who attended were Colonel Edward “EJ” Dupont, who read a touching letter on behalf of Quentin Hart, the mayor of Waterloo, Iowa.
Poems “Pathway to Independence” by Terry McDonagh and “The Sullivan Brothers” by Ima Ryma, were read, and a laurel wreath decorated with the colors of the Irish and American flag was laid in honor of the Sullivan brothers.
“We had Americans that came as Americans to our Remembrance Saturday Commemoration,” Denis J. Buckley said, “and left as Irish Americans.”
For the full story of the life, triumphs, and tragedies of the Five Sullivan Brothers, read our feature Brothers in Arms.