In the days leading up to Veterans Day, Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan was remembered as a proud Springfield native and dedicated Marine who served overseas but never forgot his roots. He was also remembered as a hero who sacrificed his life in a shooting rampage at a military facility in Chattanooga, Tenn., July 16, 2015.
A new park in Springfield was dedicated in memory of Sullivan this week, and Governor Charlie Baker was scheduled to meet and present a flag to Sullivan’s family at Springfield City Hall Friday evening.
The newly renovated park on South Branch Parkway is located in the neighborhood where Sullivan grew up. It was renamed in his honor in December 2015 and has been under construction for the past year.
Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno attended a dedication ceremony Thursday morning and described Sullivan as “a Springfield guy at heart.”
“He served our country for eighteen years with valor and loved being a Marine,” Sarno said in a statement on the city’s website. “During his service, he saved countless lives, improved conditions of the innocent overseas, and, while protecting our country, he never forgot his Springfield heritage.”
Patrick Sullivan, the city’s executive director of parks, buildings, and recreation management, said the park will serve as reminder to visitors about “the importance of serving our country and fellow man.”
“[Thomas] Sullivan’s love for his country, his fellow Marines, and his family is engraved into the landscape of this park,” Patrick Sullivan said in a statement on the city’s website. “I am so grateful to his parents, Jerry and Betty, his sister Dianne and his brother Joe for allowing us to share Tommy’s legacy with Springfield residents and all who choose to visit this park.”
Sullivan joined the Marines in 1997 and went on to serve in Iraq. He earned several commendations during his service, including three Purple Heart Medals.Emily Sweeney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.