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T-shirt raises money for slain Marine’s family

Sully’s Brand is selling a version of their “Believe in Boston” T-shirt in honor of Marine Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan.Sully’s Brand

In response to last week’s assault on two military sites in Chattanooga, Tenn., a teenager who is a native of Springfield asked a regional apparel company to help him honor the local Marine who lost his life that day.

Marine Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan, 40, was one of four Marines fatally shot by a gunman on Thursday. Sullivan, who grew up in Springfield, was stationed at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Center in Chattanooga.

A Navy sailor also was killed.

Bill Coons, 19, a native of Springfield who now lives in San Diego, tweeted at Sully’s Brand on Friday afternoon, asking if they could make T-shirts in Sullivan’s honor and donate the profits to the Sullivan family.


“Obviously, it’s not going to help the pain of Tommy dying,” said Coons, a sophomore at the University of Arizona. “But it’s nice to know people care about helping.”

Chris Wrenn, owner of Sully’s, said he was excited about the plan but first secured support from the Sullivan family before selling the shirts.

The shirts are olive drab with the words “BELIEVE IN BOSTON” and “In memory of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan” written in black print. Sully’s created the “BELIEVE IN BOSTON” trademark in 2004 and used the phrase on their blue-and-yellow shirts following the Marathon bombings.

The T-shirt sale opened at about 10 a.m. on Tuesday, and within two hours, 300 shirts had been sold, Wrenn said. The shirts cost $20 each, and the profit of approximately $15 per shirt was being given to the Sullivan family, which is interested in donating the money to a foundation that helps veterans.

“Some of the funds they [the family] were looking at were related to . . . things that military individuals deal with after combat through either rehabilitation or mental health,” Wrenn said.


Coons said that although he did not know Sullivan personally, he feels a responsibility because of his family’s connection to the military. Coons’s father and grandfather both served as Marines, and Coons was a member of a Young Marines platoon, a youth education program.

“It’s just looking out for each other,” he said. “It’s just a nice gesture to know that people in Massachusetts care enough about the family and that his memory is not going to just fade away.”

Felicia Gans can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.