Skip to main content
Go to accessibility notice

    Description

    USS The Sullivans (DD-537) - The 5 Sullivan Brothers - "We stick together." USS The Sullivans is a Fletcher-class destroyer. She is the only United States Navy ship named in honor of more than one person, the five Sullivan brothers who perished on the USS Juneau.

    The story of the Sullivan brothers is poignant, tragic, and inspirational. The tale of five inseparable siblings from rural America who enlisted together, served together, and died together becoming heroes to a nation at war.

    The ensign of The Sullivans is a US Navy size 11, approximately 29" X 52", wool bunting, 48-star, double appliqué, sewn stripe flag finished with a canvas header and four grommets. The flag is marked on the lower obverse header, "U.S.S. SULLIVANS." The letter from the commanding officer accompanying this flag is dated 1955, however, based on the wool construction, this ensign is likely a WWII era flag that was aboard The Sullivans when she was placed in reserve in 1946.

    The story of the Sullivan brothers is legend, but they also had a sister, Genevieve (1917-1975). Their story actually begins with her, the attack on Pearl Harbor and Seaman 1st Class William V. Ball, serving aboard the USS Arizona. He was Genevieve's beau and he was among the many men lost when the Arizona exploded. When word of Bill's death reached Waterloo, Iowa, the Sullivan brothers vowed to avenge his death for their sister. On the day after Christmas 1941, George Thomas, Francis Henry, Joseph Eugene, Madison Abel and Albert Leo all volunteered for the US Navy, on the condition that they be allowed to serve together.

    The Navy had a policy of separating siblings, but it was not strictly enforced so the Navy relented and posted them to the newly commissioned USS Juneau, which soon left for the Pacific. On November 12th the Juneau was involved in the Battle of Santa Cruz Island, a close-range night action against the Japanese where the Juneau was damaged by a torpedo. Taking on water down by the head and struggling to make headway, the Juneau withdrew from the fray trying to make a safe anchorage. The next morning the Juneau was torpedoed again by a Japanese submarine. She blew up and sank in under a minute. All five Sullivan brothers perished.

    The nation was stunned, the "Fighting Sullivan Brothers" became national heroes. President Roosevelt sent a letter of condolence to their parents. The Pope sent religious medals and a rosary. The Iowa legislature adopted a formal resolution of tribute. And Genevieve, the forgotten sister, honored her brothers' sacrifice by enlisting in the US Navy in April of 1943. She served in the WAVES until the end of the war.

    The WWII career of the fast, maneuverable, long-endurance destroyer The Sullivans, was very robust and almost non-stop during the last 18 months of the war, during which she would earn nine battle stars. Her first sortie was in January of 1944. Her fleet duties included screening carriers and battleships, anti-submarine warfare, air picket duties, supporting amphibious operations, and rescuing downed pilots and shipwrecked sailors. Her service would take her over most of the Pacific, Pearl Harbor, the Marshall Islands, Kwajalein, Truk, Palaus, Yap, and Woleai New Guinea, Marcus, and Wake. She was in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the Marianas, Guam, Rota, Palaus, Formosa, and the Ryukyus. In 1945, The Sullivans continued operations around the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and against Okinawa. She sortied with the fleet against the Japanese home islands. She then returned to the Philippines and then to Pearl Harbor. In June, she was bound for the US for an overhaul, where she was when the hostilities ceased. She was placed in the Reserve Fleet in 1946.

    In 1951-1952, during the Korean War, The Sullivans was needed again. She was activated and served; again screening the fleet, providing aircraft picket duty, and shore bombardment. After Korea, she was ordered home. On her return voyage home, she called at Yokosuka, Japan, Buckner Bay, Okinawa, Hong Kong, Subic Bay, Singapore, Colombo, Ceylon, Bombay, India, Bahrein, and Aden. The Sullivans then steamed through the Red Sea, transited the Suez Canal, and proceeded to Cannes, France via Naples. After a brief fueling stop at Gibraltar the warship reached Newport, R.I. on April 11, 1953, completing a circumnavigation of the globe.

    The Sullivans then had a long deployment with the US 6th Fleet in the Mediterranean. She was decommissioned in 1965 and again placed in reserve. In 1977, she became a memorial and museum ship at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park in Buffalo, New York.

    The Sullivans ensign is a unique opportunity for an advanced collector of USN destroyers, war in the Pacific, and general US Naval artifacts. Additionally, it represents the Sullivans, a gallant family that sustained the greatest loss of members during the war. Accompanying this ensign is a letter of provenance from The Sullivan's skipper, Commander C.K. Holzer.

    The decorations of the USS The Sullivans include: American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with nine campaign stars, World War II Victory, World War II Occupation Medal with ASIA Clasp, National Defense Service Medal, Korean service Medal with two campaign stars, United Nations Korean Service Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, and Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation.

    Condition: The ensign of The Sullivans is in fair condition. It is used, worn and soiled. The fly edge is frayed with losses to all stripes. The second white stripe is separating and torn.

    This flag was formerly in the collection of Dr. Clarence Rungee, and is accompanied by his original museum inventory sheet with identifying information.


    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    June, 2020
    6th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 25
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 852

    Buyer's Premium per Lot:
    25% on the first $300,000 (minimum $49), plus 20% of any amount between $300,000 and $3,000,000, plus 12.5% of any amount over $3,000,000 per lot.

    Sold for: Sign-in or Join (free & quick)
    Track Item
    Coming soon:

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Nature & Science
    Opens about 10/20/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/21/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 10/28/2020

    Manuscripts
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 10/28/2020

    Fine & Rare Wine
    Opens about 10/23/2020

    Entertainment
    Opens about 10/26/2020

    Silver
    Opens about 10/27/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/28/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 10/29/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Ethnographic Art
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Space
    Opens about 11/02/2020

    Movie Posters
    Opens about 10/30/2020

    Photography
    Opens about 11/06/2020

    World & Ancient Coins
    Opens about 10/25/2020

    Currency
    Opens about 11/02/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/10/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/11/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/04/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/12/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Luxury Accessories
    Opens about 11/16/2020

    Arms & Armor
    Opens about 11/17/2020

    Entertainment
    Opens about 11/17/2020

    World & Ancient Coins
    Opens about 11/08/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 11/07/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/13/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/09/2020

    Photography
    Opens about 11/26/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/12/2020

    Sports Collectibles
    Opens about 11/19/2020

    Decorative Art
    Opens about 11/20/2020

    Comics & Comic Art
    Opens about 11/23/2020

    Jewelry & Timepieces
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    US Coins
    Opens about 11/16/2020

    Rare Books
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    Fine Art
    Opens about 11/25/2020

    Currency
    Opens about 11/24/2020

    World & Ancient Coins
    Opens about 11/24/2020

    Heritage membership

    Join Now - It's Free

    VIEW BENEFITS
    1. Past Auction Values (prices, photos, full descriptions, etc.)
    2. Bid online
    3. Free Collector newsletter
    4. Want List with instant e-mail notifications
    5. Reduced auction commissions when you resell your
      winnings 
    Consign now
    • Cash Advances
    • More Bidders
    • Trusted Experts
    • Over 200,000 Satisfied Consignors Since 1976
    Consign to the 2021 June 6 Arms & Armor, Civil War & Militaria Signature Auction - Dallas.

    Learn about consigning with us

    You reach a customer base that is in many ways completely unknown to the major auction houses, and your marketing to this base is as professional as one could hope for. As I continue to wind down my holdings.
    Michael Z.,
    Hawthorne, NY
    View More Testimonials

    HA.com receives more traffic than any other auction house website. (Source: Similarweb.com)

    Video tutorial

    Getting the most out of search