WATERLOO — Crew members of “Waterloo’s ship” came aboard the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum on Tuesday.
Six sailors from the USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) met with veterans and members of the Sullivan family for a reunion of sorts at the museum.
“I’m super proud to have the Navy’s finest sailors here,” said Kelly Sullivan, the granddaughter of Albert Sullivan and grandniece of George, Francis, Joseph and Madison Sullivan. “This is our ship, this is Iowa’s ship, Waterloo’s ship and Waterloo’s crew.” Kelly Sullivan, a Cedar Falls teacher, is the ship’s sponsor.
The reunion took place almost 77 years after the five Sullivan brothers died aboard the USS Juneau with nearly 700 shipmates in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II. Wreckage from the USS Juneau was discovered March 17, 2018, about 2.6 miles below the surface of the Pacific off the coast of the Solomon Islands.
“We are so blessed in Waterloo to have these sailors come and walk the streets that the Sullivan boys walked on,” Kelly Sullivan said.
Commander Pat Eliason has captained USS The Sullivans for more than two years. The current incarnation of the ship was commissioned 22 years ago.
“I’ve been on five ships, and I will tell you none have that family feeling this one does,” Eliason said.
Eliason was joined by Jennifer Millerschone, command master chief, Chris Andrews, petty officer second class, Romaine Crawford, petty officer second class, Karen Rodriquez, petty officer third class, and Adam Butler, seaman.
Millerschone joined the crew in January and is impressed by how much Waterloo has honored the Sullivans.
“I’m very excited to be here, and I’m very proud to be able to come back to the area where the boys are from,” Millerschone said. “You’re very proud of the heritage of the boys, as we are on the ship.”
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Jim Sullivan, the son of Albert Sullivan and a U.S. Navy veteran, also was at the museum and was excited members of the crew were again visiting Waterloo.
“I’m always glad to see the sailors from the Sullivan,” Jim Sullivan said. “I was in the Navy, so I know what it’s like to be on a ship and out at sea.”
Several U.S. Navy veterans attended the event, including, Yolando Loveless, Black Hawk County Veterans Affairs executive director, and his wife, Chiquita Loveless, both in their Navy dress whites.
“I’ve always said we’re one of the luckiest museums in the country because we have family members who are still here in the community,” said Billie Bailey, Grout Museum executive director. “Kelly is the ship’s sponsor, and I believe she does more than any other ship sponsor in the Navy.”
It had been three years since crew from USS The Sullivans visited Waterloo. They also are attending Navy Week activities in the Quad Cities.
“We are very fortunate, and we’re happy to host them and do our little bit,” Bailey said.
Kelly Sullivan was ecstatic to see members of the crew.
“It’s neat see how excited the crew is to be here,” Kelly Sullivan said. “They know what Waterloo is, so when they come on board the ship they actually get quizzed. Waterloo is a part of the ship.”
She calls the crew her Navy family.
“They are heroes. They are truly our country’s heroes,” Kelly Sullivan said.