Sullivan Brothers honored during RAGBRAI - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Sullivan Brothers honored during RAGBRAI

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WAUKON (KWWL) -

A sea of riders rolled into Waukon on Day Six of RAGBRAI.  Among the thousands of riders was Team Navy, 42 strong, and representing veterans everywhere.

The team has been riding RAGBRAI for decades.  But, for the first time, they were joined by Kelly Sullivan.  Sullivan is the only granddaughter of Albert, one of Waterloo's Five Sullivan Brothers. The brothers were all killed while serving on the same ship during WWII.

"There is nobody that rode RAGBRAI today the way that I got to ride RAGBRAI. I rode RAGBRAI with America's heroes. I rode RAGBRAI with our veterans," says Sullivan.

Sullivan recognizes the sacrifices veterans have made for this country and, in turn, the team of veterans is recognizing the sacrifice of the Five Sullivan Brothers.  This year, the entire team is wearing a photo of the five young men on their team jersey to honor the 75th Anniversary of the Sullivan brothers' deaths.

"Our effort was simply to ensure that we remember; never forget," says Steve Kelly, who is a Navy veteran and captain of the RAGBRAI team.

Along the seven day ride, Team Navy has been able to share the Sullivans' story. The team has also met some Iowans whose lives have crossed paths with the Sullivan family.

"He said, well, that is very interesting. My father was a Chief Petty Officer in the Navy, and he was a recruiter in Iowa. He recruited the Sullivans. That is when we realized there are serendipitous moments," says Kelly. 

It was an emotional ride for Kelly Sullivan, and one she says she will never forget.

"I saw this really cool bald eagle that swooped down. I felt the boys with me the whole way; I really, really did. It is very difficult physically, but it is a great experience.  And to be with veterans, these people who I truly admire and respect, made it even better," says Sullivan.

Sullivan will be finishing out RAGBRAI with Team Navy.

All 43 of the members, including Sullivan, will hit the Mississippi River carrying the Sullivan Brothers on their backs - and in their hearts.

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