Granddaughter of One of 'The Sullivans' Reviews Recruit Graduation

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Story Number: NNS140714-28Release Date: 7/14/2014 5:57:00 PM

By Scott A. Thornbloom, Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Rich Brown, commander, Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) hosted Kelly Sullivan Loughren, the granddaughter of one of the Sailor brothers known as "The Fighting Sullivans", during a Recruit Training Commmand (RTC) Pass-In-Review (PIR) graduation at Great Lakes, Ill., July 11.

Sullivan Loughren was invited by Brown to serve as reviewing officer at the weekly PIR, The admiral has known the third-grade school teacher from Cedar Falls, Iowa, since he was the fifth commanding officer of the USS The Sullivans (DDG 68). She was the ship's sponsor and christened the aegis guided-missile destroyer on Aug. 12, 1995 at Bath, Maine. She was also on hand for the commissioning on April 19, 1997 in Staten Island, New York.

"Kelly represents an important heritage of our Navy and embodies the ideals of service we instill in recruits at RTC. I have learned a lot from our time together, and I know that the recruits graduating today (July 11) will benefit from her wisdom as well," said Brown.

Sullivan Loughren's grandfather, Albert, and his four brothers from Waterloo, Iowa, served together aboard the light cruiser USS Juneau (CL-52) during World War II. The Sullivan brothers: George, 28; Francis, 27; Joseph, 24; Madison, 23; and Albert, 20; lost their lives during the Battle of Guadalcanal on Nov. 13, 1942. They were adamant about serving together in spite of the Navy wartime policy to separate family members. Surviving the brothers were their parents, Thomas and Alleta, their sister Genevieve, and the youngest brothers wife, Katherine, and their son, James. The family today includes two grandchildren of Albert Sullivan: Kelly Ann Sullivan Loughren and John Sullivan.

"My grandfather and his brothers were all about service just as the recruits graduating today also will be volunteering their service to the Navy," said Sullivan Loughren. "I know that my grandfather and grand-uncles were here with us in spirit today."

Sullivan Loughren is a representative for Gold Star Mothers of America today. She participated in the 50th Anniversary of V-J Day at Pearl Harbor in 1995 representing World War II mothers. She received the 1995 honor because she is a lifetime member of the Society of Sponsors of the United States Navy. She is also a board member of the Sullivan Foundation. She is actively involved with ship activities on The Sullivans and works to keep the ship and her crew connected to the Sullivan family and the city of Waterloo.

"The five Sullivan Brothers epitomize Honor, Courage and Commitment!" said Brown. "Often our friends and family who support us at home and who survive us, do the most to honor our service. I would like to thank Kelly for all she has done in her service to her family, our country and our shipmates. She has truly made a difference."

In her speech as the reviewing officer she told the more than 500 graduating recruits and their more than 1,000 family members and friends in attendance in the USS Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall to carry on the legacy of those before them.

"Each recruit has selfishly answered a call to duty and serve a cause greater than them. These men and women have proven themselves worthy to wear the uniform that symbolizes freedom around the world - the uniform of the United States Navy," said an emotional Sullivan Loughren as she spoke to the graduating recruits and their family members.

"I hope the Sailors of today always take their service seriously and never forget those who came before them," she said. "Naval Station Great Lakes has a very special place in my heart as my grandfather and his brothers first came through Great Lakes for training before they went to World War II. I know they are here and just as proud of all these graduating recruits as I am. They are all my heroes," Sullivan Loughren said.

On Friday morning, before graduation, Sullivan Loughren was afforded the opportunity to see how today's Navy recruits live with a tour of Recruit Training Command (RTC). She started the morning with breakfast in the USS Arizona, a recruit barracks.

Arizona and the 13 other recruit barracks on RTC are set up like a ship. They have berthing (sleeping) compartments, galleys, classrooms, quarterdecks, laundry facilities and offices. The last of the specialized barracks was finished in July 2010 successfully completing a 12-year $770 million recapitalization plan to meet the mission of training 21st Century Sailors.

Today, more than 35,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.

Sullivan Loughren and her fiance, Frank Jowitt, were escorted by Brown and Capt. W. Douglas Pfeifle, RTC commanding officer, on a tour of the Navy's largest simulator, USS Trayer (BST 21). Trayer is a 210-foot-long replica of an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer where Battle Stations is held and is the final evolution recruits must pass before graduating from boot camp.

Recruits spend an entire night on board Trayer loading stores, getting underway, handling mooring lines, manning general quarter stations, stopping floods and combating shipboard fires. It is as close to being underway as a recruit can get before they receive orders to their first ship. It is also considered the final evaluation of a recruit's reactions in tight situations and a chance for the recruit to see how far they have come in their training.

"This was such an amazing, amazing day that I will always remember," she said.

In closing her speech at the PIR graduation, Loughren Sullivan reminded the recruits what she also told those in attendance at the christening of USS The Sullivans as a blessing to the newest Sailors of the Navy.

"In honor of my grandfather and his brothers, I say congratulations Sailors. May the 'Luck of the Irish' always be with you. God bless you all, our Navy and the United States of America."

Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

On Nov. 8, 1942, The Sullivan brothers and Juneau departed Noumea, New Caledonia, as a unit of TF 67 under the command of Rear Adm. Richmond K. Turner to escort reinforcements to Guadalcanal. The force arrived there in the early morning on Nov. 12, and Juneau took up her station in the protective screen around the transports and cargo vessels. Unloading proceeded unmolested until 2:05 p.m., when 30 Japanese planes attacked the United States group. The anti-aircraft (AA) fire was effective, and Juneau alone accounted for six enemy torpedo bombers shot down. The few remaining Japanese planes were in turn attacked by American fighters; only one bomber escaped.

Later in the day, an American attack group of cruisers and destroyers cleared Guadalcanal on reports that a large enemy surface force was headed for the island. At 1:48 a.m. on Nov. 13, Rear Adm. Daniel J. Callaghan's relatively small landing support group engaged the enemy. The Japanese force consisted of two battleships, one light cruiser, and nine destroyers.

Because of bad weather and confused communications, the battle occurred in near pitch darkness and at almost point-blank range as the ships of the two sides became intermingled. During the melee, Juneau was struck on the port side by a torpedo causing a severe list, and necessitating withdrawal. Before noon on Nov. 13, Juneau, along with two other cruisers damaged in the battle - Helena and San Francisco - headed toward Espiritu Santo for repairs. Juneau was steaming on one screw, keeping station 800-yards off the starboard quarter of the likewise severely damaged San Francisco.

She was down 12-feet by the bow, but able to maintain 13-knots (15 mph). A few minutes after 11:00 a.m., two torpedoes were launched from the Japanese submarine I-26. These were intended for San Francisco, but both passed ahead of her. One struck Juneau in the same place that had been hit during the battle. There was a great explosion; Juneau broke in two and disappeared in just 20 seconds. Fearing more attacks from I-26, and wrongly assuming from the massive explosion that there were no survivors, Helena and San Francisco departed without attempting to rescue any survivors. In fact, more than 100 sailors had survived the sinking of Juneau. They were left to fend for themselves in the open ocean for eight days before rescue aircraft belatedly arrived. While awaiting rescue, all but 10 died from the elements and shark attacks, including the five Sullivan brothers. Two of the brothers apparently survived the sinking, only to die in the water; two presumably went down with the ship. Some reports indicate the fifth brother also survived the sinking, but disappeared during the first day in the water.

USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, is the second ship of the United States Navy to be named for the five Sullivan brothers (the first ship named for them was DD-537). This was the greatest military loss by any one American family during World War II.

RTC is primarily responsible for conducting the initial Navy orientation and training of new recruits. The command is commonly referred to as "boot camp" or "recruit training".

Boot camp is approximately eight weeks, and all enlistees into the United States Navy begin their careers at the command. Training includes physical fitness, seamanship, firearms familiarization, firefighting and shipboard damage control, lessons in Navy heritage and core values, teamwork and discipline. Since the closure of RTCs in Orlando and San Diego in 1994, RTC Great Lakes is, today, the Navy's only basic training location, and is known as "The Quarterdeck of the Navy." Today, approximately 38,000 recruits graduate annually from RTC and begin their Navy careers.

RTC is overseen by Brown and his Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) staff, headquartered in Building 1; the historic clock tower building on Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill. NSTC (NSTC) oversees 98 percent of initial officer and enlisted accessions training for the Navy. NSTC also includes the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) at more than 160 colleges and universities, OTC Newport, and Navy Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (NJROTC) and Navy National Defense Cadet Corps (NNDCC) citizenship development programs at more than 600 high schools worldwide.

For more news and information about RTC, visit or find us on Facebook at

For more information about NSTC, visit or visit the NSTC Facebook pages at

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