It’s discouraging to visit every major news outlet on the internet and find articles upon articles on the Chattanooga shooter and very little, if anything, on the first fallen Marine to be identified:
Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, 40, of Springfield, MA.
Just last week, this American hero and Purple Heart recipient was jogging down the street at his family’s home in Hampden, Massachusetts. In his time as a Marine he served two tours in Iraq. He comes from a military family – his brother Joe is a local politician and a war vet himself.
Thomas, or “Tommy” as his friends and family back home call him, has been a Marine since the age of 18. He currently serving in India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines and fought in the 2005 Battle of Abu Ghraib. It was in that battle that he earned a Combat Action medal and Purple Heart.
His brother Joe also owns a family restaurant in his family’s old neighborhood called Nathan Bill’s Bar & Restaurant. They posted this tribute on the outside sign:
“He was our hero and he will never be forgotten. Please keep his family & friends in your thoughts and prayers. Thank you Tommy for protecting us.”
Everyone who knew Tommy loved him. While he leaves no children behind, he lives on in the hearts of the people back in Massachusetts who know and love him best. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has ordered all flags at half mast in tribute. On social media, tributes are also pouring in:
RIP GySgt Thomas Sullivan, it was an honor knowing you and knowing you’re the reason why my mom would smile. 7/16/15? pic.twitter.com/jECIVDgCDT
— Taryn? (@Spotlight_Taryn) July 17, 2015
I’m stunned and saddened to hear that my classmate Sgt. Tommy Sullivan was gunned down in yesterday’s shooting. #RIPTommy ?
— Tim Hourihan (@TimHourihan) July 17, 2015
From his local newspaper:
SPRINGFIELD — He grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, survived two tours of duty in Iraq, and earned a Purple Heart. But, according to his family, he died in a domestic terrorist attack on Thursday, July 16, 2015, at the hands of a madman in Chattanooga, Tennessee, who shot up a military base, killing four Marines and wounding three others.
His name is Thomas J. Sullivan, 40, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, one of three kids of Jerry and Betty Sullivan. He grew up in the East Forest Park section of Springfield, graduated Cathedral High School and went on to serve his country in Iraq.