Sullivan family reacts to the USS Juneau discovery - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Sullivan family reacts to the USS Juneau discovery

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

The five Sullivan brothers became a national symbol of sacrifice after two Japanese torpedoes sank their ship, the USS Juneau, during a 1942 WWII battle in the South Pacific.

687 sailors on the USS Juneau died. Only 10 survived.

It was a sacrifice made not only by the brothers themselves but the entire family.

"Without having a body, something to actually see; I mean they left and my grandparents never saw them," said Jim Sullivan who was just a year old when he lost his father, the youngest brother, Albert.

"I don't think you can get any closure. This might be the closest," said Jim, referring to the recent discovery of the USS Juneau shipwreck.

A private research team funded by Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen found the ship on Saturday near the Solomon Islands.

The discovery of the ship was a moment many Juneau families were not prepared for.

"You can't describe it. It is an unusual feeling. You feel kind of numb and there are over 700 families who are feeling the same way," said Kelly Sullivan, the only granddaughter of the Sullivan brothers.

What is incredible footage of the shipwreck for many people, is for the families, the first time they are seeing where their loved ones have rested for 75 years.

"I would personally like to see it stay where it is at. That is a grave for a lot of those sailors. That is my feeling," said Jim.

"Your dad is down there," said Kelly. "I would love to see the ship the USS (The new USS The Sullivans DG68) The Sullivans go out there and do a wreath laying with some Juneau families."

It would bring the story full circle to have the namesake, the USS The Sullivans return to the sight near the Solomon Islands for a proper goodbye.

"When I visit the ship I feel the boy's presence, not just the boys, but I feel all the Juneau sailors. It is a really overwhelming feeling that is difficult to describe when you visit the ship," said Kelly.

Kelly is the sponsor of the USS The Sullivans and was attending a retirement ceremony on the ship on Saturday, St. Patrick's Day, at the very moment the discovery was made.

She says the "Luck of the Irish" is always with USS The Sullivans and the crew, but this weekend it was also with the discovery team.

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