The Sole Survivor Policy and the Tragedy That Preceeded It

May 26, 2014

Hat-tip Mark Levin for sharing this story on a recent podcast in a Memorial Day tribute.

With all the picnics, barbeques, going to the beach, etc., on this holiday it’s easy to lose the significance of Memorial Day but we should all take a little time to honor those who have died for our freedom and all those serving in the military today and especially our returning veterans.

Mark Levin recounted the tragic story of the five Sullivan brothers who enlisted in the Navy together on January 3, 1942 and requested to serve together. All five were assigned to the light cruiser USS Juneau and all five lost their lives during the Battle of Guadalcanal nine months later.

Sullivan brothers







The Sullivan Brothers from left to right:  Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George

According to Wikipedia, the brothers’ parents were notified of their deaths on January 12, 1943. That morning, the boys’ father, Thomas, was preparing to go to work when three men in uniform – a lieutenant commander, a doctor and a chief petty officer – approached his front door.

“I have some news for you about your boys,” the naval officer said. “Which one?” asked Thomas. “I’m sorry,” the officer replied. “All five.”

The “Fighting Sullivan Brothers” were national heroes. President Franklin Roosevelt sent a letter of condolence to Tom and Alleta. Pope Pius XII sent a silver religious medal and rosary with his message of regret. The Iowa Senate and House adopted a formal resolution of tribute to the Sullivan brothers.

Partly as s a result of this tragic loss the Dept of Defense initiated the Sole Survivor Policy describing a set of regulations in the U.S. military designed to protect members of a family from the draft or combat duty if they have already lost family members in military service.

Please take some time to remember our fallen heros on this Memorial Day.

Aloha, Mikie ~just a blogger (fightin’ like a girl)

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