William A. Sullivan – Rear Admiral, United States Navy

City square named for decorated veteran

LAWRENCE, New Hampshire – From Pearl Harbor to Normandy to London, this Lawrence native oversaw the salvaging of sunken ships during World War I and World War II.

Known as the “Father of Navy Salvage” and “Commodore of Sunken Ships,” Rear Admiral William Sullivan, one of the city's most decorated veterans, was honored Sunday by Lawrence officials with a plaque at the corner of South Broadway and Salem Street. It's now called Sullivan Square.

“He was a great person who grew up here and served his country so we can be here today,” said Sergeant Francisco Urena, the city's director of veterans affairs. Sullivan died in 1985 at age 91.

As Urena read from Sullivan's illustrious 30-year career in the Navy, “oohs” and “ahhs” were heard from the audience, which included politicians, family members and friends. The Rev. John Delaney of St. Michael's Parish in North Andover blessed the plaque after it was unveiled.

The idea to name the corner after Sullivan came from his niece, Barbara Jones of Lawrence. She and District F City Councilor Marie Gosselin were talking weeks after last St. Patrick's Day parade about famous Irish families in the city when Sullivan's name came up.

“I've always been proud of him,” Jones said. “He was quiet, reserved, unassuming and never bragged about his feat.”

Jones, the keeper of the family's history, drew up a proposal and presented it to the City Council this summer. It was approved unanimously.

“It gives us a sense of pride and accomplishment,” said Mayor Michael Sullivan, who is not related to the late admiral. “These are the stories that need to be told.”

Sullivan said he will create a link on the city's Web site that provides information about the rear admiral as well as the biographies of other people who have corners named after them.

Jones said she learned more about her uncle after his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. She was in awe as six white horses pulled his glass casket, draped with an American flag.

“I thought it was great to honor him that way, just as I'm thrilled about today,” said Jones, who has Sullivan's Navy uniform and some of his medals.

Rear Admiral William Sullivan

Born and raised at 160 S. Broadway. Educated at Wetherbee School and Lawrence High School. Graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, 1917.

Enlisted in the Navy after graduating from college and worked at various shipyards in the United States and the Philippines. Head of the Salvage Branch, Bureau of Ships, including the preparation for raising the USS Lafayette at Normandy.

Supervised harbor cleaning operations at Casablanca in 1942.

Organized Naval Training School (Salvage) at Pier 88 in New York, and lectured on salvage and naval architecture to the first class.

Assigned to the Allied naval forces in the Mediterranean, reporting to General Dwight Eisenhower. Named commander of all U.S. and British salvage ships under Eisenhower.

Worked with General Douglas MacArthur at San Fernando and Manila as commander of Task Group 122.2 at Normandy, Omaha and Utah Beach.

Received the Distinguished Service Medal; Legion of Merit and the Naval Unit Citation; Commander, Order of the British Empire; Legion of Honor Croix de Guerre with Palm by France; and High Official, Order of the Crown of Italy.

Died September 6, 1985 in La Jolla, California. Buried at Arlington National Cemetery; “Father of the Navy Salvage” inscribed on his monument.

Memorialized with a plaque on Pier 88 in New York, Sept. 26, 1992.

DATE OF BIRTH: 08/27/1894
DATE OF DEATH: 09/06/1985

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