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COLT: LEGEND & LEGACY

LEFT TO DIE

THE MARK OF UNCAS

SCHEMITZUN!

USS NAUTILUS

CONNECTICUT

AS WE TELL OUR STORIES

BETWEEN BOSTON & NY

CONNECTICUT  & THE SEA

CRUSADERS & CRIMINALS

EAST OF THE RIVER

FROM HERE TO THERE

THE GREEN

THE NEW PEQUOT

SUBURBIA

LESTER ZOOK (USS Juneau Crew): He dropped a life jacket and in the life jacket was a canteen and a couple of chocolate bars and a book. And in the book was this note from him and it said, “Cheer up lads. Help is on the way. There should be a destroyer here to pick you up tomorrow. I have orders not to land.”

NARRATOR: The next day, November 20th -- seven days after the sinking --another PBY piloted by Lieutenant Lawrence Williamson again spotted the survivors.

Headquarters suggested that he circle and wait for a rescue ship.

WILLIAM ANDERSON (PBY Crew): But it was getting late and Mr. Williamson decided that he'd go on down because we were running short on fuel.

NARRATOR: William Anderson was Williamson’s plane captain.

ANDERSON: Well, we landed by this raft 'cause it had five people in it.  The other two rafts only had one each so we thought we'd pick up the ones with the most survivors and hopefully when we got down we'd be able to pick up the others, but when we were in the water we couldn't see a thing.  I guess we were lucky to land close to the ones we picked out.

And I was helping them up, taking them by the hand, pulling 'em up the ladder one by one.  And I slipped into the water.  And because of my fear of sharks that were in the area I got out so fast I don't think I even got wet.

HOLMGREN: As bad as I was laying there in that thing took off and I could swear to God he was submerging instead of going up.  I had to pull myself up and look through that window.  Yep. --  That's about it Z IN ECU And we met the rest of them on Gilbert Island.  Yeah, that was about it.

NARRATOR: On the following morning, the last two survivors were picked up by a destroyer.They were the sole survivors on each of their rafts.

Arthur Friend had had part of his buttocks ripped off by a shark the day before his rescue.

Allen Heyn suffered multiple injuries, which were to plague him the rest of his life.

All but 10 of the Juneau crew were lost, including 2 Rogers brothers and all 5 Sullivans.

JAMES ROGERS (USS Juneau Crew): My brother Joe was coming back from loading the motor launch with supplies. He says “...the Juneau got hit."  So I says "Jesus it got hit" I says "what about Pat and Lou?"  He says "I don't know."  He says "they say it's almost the whole crew that went down." So that's when he went to the captain and he says "can I go on the beach to the hospital and see if my brothers are killed or what."  So he went and then he come back and he told me "Jim" he says "Jim both of them went down."  And we couldn't take it for a while, but then we decided that those are the things that was gonna happen and we should be thankful that we did make the swap and get off.

NARRATOR: George, the oldest Sullivan brother, had survived the blast. For the first 5 days he went from raft to raft, seeking his dead brothers among the oil-caked survivors, calling out their names day and night.

KURZMANN: Finally on the 5th day he went mad and he figured that he could swim to an island and he jumped into the water and three sharks leaped for him and that was the end of George Sullivan, the last of the brothers.

NEWSREEL
FIVE HERO BROTHERS MISSING IN ACTION FIGHTING THE JAPS

“The home that lost 5 brothers in the sinking of the cruiser Juneau. George, Francis, Joseph, Madison, and Albert Sullivan. They insisted on serving together.

Wife of the youngest and their son Jimmy. And the brother parents, Mr & Mrs. Thomas F. Sullivan.”

NARRATOR: Jim Sullivan is the only child of the Sullivan brothers.

JAMES SULLIVAN (Son of Albert Sullivan): To tell you the truth I don't know how they handled it, but of course there were a lot of news people there, a lot of military people stopped in.

NEWSREEL
“As I give you these purple hearts, I can say only that the Navy is as proud of the Sullivan parents as it is of the Sullivan boys.”

“They gave 5 sons. Let’s buy an extra war bond.”

SULLIVAN: And then almost immediately they were on a war bond drive and I think that's probably how they were able to keep their sanity because it kept there- kept 'em busy.

My grandmother, she got everybody's attention.  My grandfather, he kind of stood back in the background. He served as a father figure to me and I'm sure I served - or took the place of the sons that he lost. I was closer to him than anybody I've ever been to in my life.

NARRATOR: The Navy command arranged for the Sullivans to speak at 235 bond rallies and defense plants nationwide during a 4-month tour. Sympathy for the Sullivan family quickly turned into a national call to arms.

While promoting the Juneau crew’s heroic fate, the Navy suppressed the full story of its failure to quickly rescue the Juneau survivors. The tragic details stayed buried until 1994 -- 52 years after the sinking.

CREDITS

 


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Last modified: September 03, 2012