Image: left to right, Captain William Joseph O’Sullivan, his son and Captain Bill O’Sullivan, and his grandson and Captain Connor O’Sullivan.
BILL O’SULLIVAN, Guest Writer
My Grandfather came here as a result of political activity early in the last century. He was also a Republican as well but an Irish Republican. He came here as an immigrant with his brother, Dennis, a parish priest from the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Knightstown, Valentia Island, County Kerry. They were both politically active in the “troubles” and their departure was necessary.
Captain William Joseph O’Sullivan
My Grandfather settled in New York, married and had one son, William Joseph O’Sullivan, my father, who grew up in Queens. Eventually, he became a police officer, which was a customary public service job for the families of Irish immigrants. Though deferred from the draft because of his occupation, he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1943, becoming a Marine Pilot and, because of his skills, an instructor. He used to tell me that his words to a student before a flight was, “How are you going to try to kill me today”? He eventually reached the rank of Captain and at the end of the war returned to the NYPD from which he retired in 1961.
Captain Bill O’Sullivan
I grew up in Flushing, New York. We shared our grandparentss house, which had been converted to a two family house. I joined the Marine Corps in February of 1968. It was during the siege of Khe Sanh. I left college to join. After Boot Camp at Parris Island and Infantry Training at Camp Lejeune, I became an 0311 Infantryman. I was on a levee for Viet Nam. However, I was chosen to attend OCS and my visit to Westpac was postponed. I was given a new MOS, 6720 Air Traffic Control Officer, and finally sent to Viet Nam. I was discharged after my tour at the rank of Captain, like Dad.
Captain Connor O’Sullivan
My son Connor received an NROTC Scholarship to Texas A&M on a Marine contract. He had no draft looking over his shoulder, so his choice was all internal. I sat him down and advised him that both his Grandfather and I had already paid the bill for service to this Country in time of war and he had no need to do this. However, the Country always needs to have those willing to walk into the maelstrom when necessary. He chose to become a Marine Officer. Last year Lynn and I flew out to California to watch him pinned as the third Captain of Marines in the O’Sullivan Family.
Dad spent his service in Pensacola, Florida. Connor, after deployments to the Balkans and Africa, is no longer at the tip of the spear but commanding a training company of 400 marines who rotate every six weeks. I went to Vietnam and found myself subject to the occasional rocket and mortar attacks. Since these are mainly shot in your general direction rather than aimed just at you, I like to say rather than being personal, it was more “To whom it may concern.” I guess you could consider that combat.
We moved to Texas in 1992. On July 3,1993 we went to the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion for the “Star Spangled Salute.” At the end after the Service Songs had been played and we were exiting, a woman, who noticed that I had stood for the Marines Hymn, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Thank you for your service.” That was the first time those words were said to me though I had returned from Vietnam 22 years before. For a long time I couldn’t tell that story without choking up. Even while typing this I am getting a catch in my throat. However, that night, I knew Texas was my home.
The title Marine is earned and the Eagle, Globe and Anchor (EGA) is burned in your soul. You may not understand it, and I can’t explain it to you. Marines are all brothers and sisters. Next year I will be celebrating the 50th Anniversary of my commissioning in New York with many brothers that commissioned with me that day. Like I said, the EGA is burned in our souls.