The Sullivan Boys: A Reflection on War and Communication


It’s worth taking a moment to reflect on how profoundly technology has changed our world. Amidst the frequent criticism of cell-phone technology — detractors argue that it has grossly impinged on our public spaces — we often fail to remember when lack of communication caused real pain.

Most of us know the World War II story of the Sullivan brothers — five young men from one family killed in action. . . but did you know that although they died in November of 1942, in the Battle of Guadalcanal, the family had still not received official word in January, and their mother wrote to the Navy asking about a rumour that they had all died?

Here’s the letter that Florida Cracker found and posted this last week:


Every time I read this, I can’t get beyond the line, “If it is so, please let me know the truth,” without choking up. What an unimaginable loss.


History marches remorselessly on. And we fight another war.

Tammy Pruett sends five sons off to Iraq. But because of Alletta Sullivan’s loss, the Pruett boys would not be allowed to serve together in the same unit.

And another soldier’s mom, a blogger, Some Soldier’s Mom, got a phone call on Tuesday: her son, Noah Pincusoff, had been seriously injured in Iraq. She put up a post asking for prayer for him at 6:37pm.

By 4:30am, she had talked with him by phone in Iraq.

By Friday, Mrs. Greyhawk had seen Noah in person in Landstuhl.

By this morning, Mrs. G was able to talk with Noah’s mom by phone to tell her how well her son is doing. . .

Sure. There are some downsides to the new insta-always-on-communication.

But the upsides are worth it.

* * *

See also — From Michael Yon’s amazing reporting on site in Mosul: Picture of Commander Erik Kurilla calling wounded soldier, Daniel Lama’s, family to reassure them that he is going to be okay.

And more cool technology: open trackbacks at the ever-generous Beth’s Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. . .

And Mrs. Greyhawk, as well as visiting hospitals and giving us the great Dawn Patrol, also gives us Open Post!


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2 Responses

  1. David Wayne says:

    I read Michael Yon’s story about Cmdr. Kurilla the other night. I usually don’t read real long blog posts, which is very hypocritical considering the length of most of my own, but I was transfixed by the story. What amazing courage!

  2. Tom McMahon says:

    In Regards To A Rumor Going Around That My Five Sons Were Killed In Action

    Letter From Mrs. Sullivan To The Navy Even though the 5 Sullivan brothers were killed in action in November 1942, their parents still had not been informed two months later. Here’s an excerpt from Daniel Sullivan’s terrific page, The