South Boston square rededicated to Navy sailor who died in World War II

A clipping of a Globe story about the disappearance of Martin Francis McDonough.
A clipping of a Globe story about the disappearance of Martin Francis McDonough.File

A South Boston man who died when his ship was torpedoed during the Battle of Guadalcanal was honored Saturday with a rededication of a city square.

Martin McDonough was a 27-year-old Navy serviceman serving aboard the USS Juneau when the ship was lost Nov. 13, 1942. The disaster claimed the lives of McDonough and hundreds of his crewmates.

Among those who died were five brothers named Sullivan — Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison, and George, according to the US Navy.

On Saturday, Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the city Office of Veterans’ Affairs rededicated the area outside 329A West Broadway in South Boston in McDonough’s memory. The spot is outside American Legion Post 368, which already is named for McDonough.


The rededication ceremony coincided with the 78th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. McDonough joined the Navy about a month later, Walsh said Saturday, calling McDonough “a true Boston hero.”

McDonough fought in several battles, including Guadalcanal, which was a turning point in the war, Walsh said, according to a copy of his prepared remarks.

“But this victory came at a steep price. Many lives were lost, including Martin’s,” he said, noting McDonough was awarded the Purple Heart for “his service and sacrifice.”

“We will always remember Martin and all the brave men we lost that night, and in the days that followed,” Walsh said.

Walsh also thanked the crew of the USS Constitution for flying a flag in McDonough’s memory on the anniversary of the Juneau’s sinking on Nov. 13.

“We know we can never repay our heroes for their sacrifice. But we can keep their memories and stories alive, and inspire the next generation of patriots,” Walsh said.

A graduate of Boston Trade School, he had been employed by the Oelrich Wool Co. and was a business agent of the Warehousemen’s Union, the Globe reported in 1953.


He was known as an acclaimed local boxer who played football, basketball, and baseball. As a teen, he turned his home’s basement into a small gym, and served as a mentor for local children.

Members of his family were present in 1953 when a South Boston gymnasium was named in his honor. About 5,000 people lined Broadway to watch a parade during that dedication, the Globe reported at the time.

“No child in the district was ever deprived of Marty’s guidance,” according to a tribute that appeared in the Globe. “In later years never was he too tired after a strenuous day’s work to coach the youngsters to the best of his ability in whatever sport they were interested in.”

McDonough left local children “a magnificent inspiration to follow,” the tribute said.

Today, there are about 1,700 hero squares spread across Boston dedicated to military members who have been killed while serving the country, according to Walsh.

Veterans’ Services is adding a biographical plaque to each square so people can learn more about that person’s life and service, Walsh said.

“We want to encourage people to take a moment in their busy lives to read and reflect upon the history of service in their neighborhoods,” he said.

John Hilliard can be reached at john.hilliard@globe.com.