The U.S.S. The Sullivans shipmates reunite in Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

The U.S.S. The Sullivans shipmates reunite in Waterloo


Veterans from across the country have come to Waterloo to celebrate two ships that share the same name.

U.S.S. The Sullivans was a destroyer built in the early 40's and served during World War II and the Korean War. After it was decommissioned in 1965 another ship was give the same name in 1997. On Thursday former sailors of both ships met in waterloo for their 24th reunion.

These reunions happen every two years and the last one was held in Buffalo New York. That's where the first U.S.S. The Sullivans is currently located. It's currently a floating museum.

On Thursday morning the reunion began at Sullivan Park in Waterloo where a short ceremony was held. A bell was rung 54 time and the names read of those former sailors who passed away since the last reunion.

With two ships serving for a combined 30 plus years, there a number of veterans who are taking part in this reunion.

"A number of these fellas are getting up in years and it's more difficult for them to travel to the reunions. They thought this would be an ideal time to have one here in Waterloo," said the reunion organizer, Michael Magee.

For John Clifton and Arthur Schmitt these reunions mean a lot. Both men served on the original U.S.S. The Sullivans during its maiden voyage in World War II. The memories they have while on that ship are still crystal clear.

Clifton even kept a journal so his memories would not fade.

"One time we raced another destroyer three hours and we bet the 1500 dollars and then they bear us 3000 yards in three hours and we lost 1500 dollars," said Clifton.

"Kamikazes were attacking us. We were about six miles off the coast of Japan and we radioed back to the fleet there are Japs coming over," said Schmitt.

The turbulent time they spent on that ship changed their lives forever and only those they served with can understand that.

"Its history, it's totally history and I relive it every day of my life and The Sullivans," said Clifton.

On Friday morning these veterans will get a chance to tour the John Deere Engine Works and in the evening they will visit the Five Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum.

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