Franklin Roosevelt Sullivan Letter

The "Franklin Roosevelt Sullivan Letter" was written by the U.S. President on January 13, 1943 and delivered to the grieving parents who lost their five sons, serving their country together in a time of war.

The five brothers enlisted together in Waterloo, Iowa, only eleven months prior, insisting that they be aloud to serve the U.S. Navy on the same vessel. The brothers unity in patriotism was inspired by the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

A tragedy and sorrow only the grief stricken family can know, The Five Sullivan brothers  were killed aboard the cruiser Juneau on Nov 15, 1942 during World War II when the Juneau was attacked off Guadalcanal and sunk during the Battle of the Solomon Islands. 

Sadly over 600 U.S. Navy crew members sacrificed their lives for country on that fateful day, with a mere eleven survivors.

Roosevelt writes to the Grieving Parents of the 5 Sullivan Brothers

Dear Mrs. Sullivan:

"The Knowledge that your five gallant sons are missing in action, against the enemy, inspired me to write you this personal message, I realize full well there is little I can say to assuage your grief.

As the Commander in Chief of the Army and the Navy, I want you to know that the entire nation shares your sorrow. I offer you the condolence and gratitude of our country. We, who remain to carry on the fight, must maintain the spirit in the knowledge that such sacrifice is not in vain. The Navy Department has informed me of the expressed desire of your son; George Thomas, Francis Henry, Joseph Eugene, Madison Abel, and Albert Leo, to serve on the same ship. I am sure, that we all take pride in the knowledge that they fought side by side. As one of your sons wrote, ' We will make a team together that can't be beat.' It is this spirit which in the end must triumph.

Last March, you, Mrs. Sullivan, were designated to sponsor a ship of the Navy in recognition of your patriotism and that of your sons. I am to understand that you are, now, even more determined to carry on as sponsor. This evidence of unselfishness and courage serves as real inspiration for me, as I am sure it will for all American. Such acts of fate and fortitude in the face of tragedy convince me of the indomitable spirit and will of our people.

I send you my deepest sympathy in your hour of trial and pray that in Almighty God you will find a comfort and help that only He can bring.

Very sincerely yours,

President Roosevelt ordered the U.S. Navy to name it's next destroyer vessel in the name of the Sullivan brothers to honor their service and ultimate sacrifice. "The Sullivans" DD 537 was sponsored by the five brothers mother Alleta Sullivan. It was in service from 1943 to 1965 and earned nine distinguished Battle Stars during World War II and two more during the Korean War.

30 years later a Second Destroyer was named  "The Sullivans" DDG-68 in the five brothers honor, which launched on August 12, 1995. The  destroyer was sponsored by Albert Leo Sullivan's granddaughter.

The USS "The Sullivan's" destroyer cruising  the waters...

Back to top of Franklin Roosevelt Sullivan Letter Page

Back to Franklin Roosevelt Facts Page

Back to American Presidents History Home Page

Connect With US =>

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Roosevelt Historical Events

Speeches & Documents