I don’t know if I believe in ghosts but I believe in a good ghost story. Even though I’ve mostly moved towards digital reading, I still visit a bookstore from time to time. When there, I often look through the bargain book section and recently I happened upon a book published by West Side Publishing, a division of Publications International Ltd entitled
Armchair Reader Haunted America.
It being October, the month for all things Halloween, I bought the book. Under the plan to share some of the stories with my followers, the book has many stories I heard before. This is my fourth story from this book:
Haunted Destroyer – The Five Sullivan Brothers
Many of you may know that Steven Spielberg was inspired by the story of the five Sullivan brothers to make his epic film, Saving Private Ryan (1998). In the aftermath of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, five brothers from Waterloo, Iowa enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served together on the light cruiser, USS Juneau. Their names were George, Francis, Joseph, Madison and Albert Sullivan. Their story is tragic because in November 1942, the Juneau was sunk by a Japanese submarine and all five men perished. There story is also immortalized in a the movie The Fighting Sullivans (1944).
In 1943, the U.S. Navy honored the Sullivans by naming a destroyer after them, USS the Sullivans. The ship served during the rest of World War II, the Korean War and other engagements afterwards. After it was decommissioned in 1965, no one wanted to maintain and clean the ship as the spirits of the Sullivan brothers were apparently haunting the ship.
The Haunting Begins
Not active while the destroyer was still on active duty, but the ghosts made themselves known when the ship was retired. What did the workers see and hear? The workers on the Sullivan at its retirement reported seeing flying objects, weird sounds and terrifying moans. They witnessed fleeting glimpses of young men dressed in World War II-era naval uniforms. An electrician’s mate refuse to come aboard on Friday the 13th as he claimed the last time he was on board on that date, an unseen hand had reached out from the bulkhead, grabbed him by the ankle and tripped him. (Did he just want a Friday off of work? :))
After the Friday the 13th story became known, others felt it was safe to come forward with their frightening stories. Here are what was reported:
- A toolbox snatched out of the hands of another electrician’s mate by an unseen hand.
- Five glowing spheres passing in a darkened hallway.
- Chills and a sense of dread upon boarding the ship.
- A skeptic had trouble breathing and buzzing in his ears after boarding.
- Most of the reported events occurred while the ship was docked in Philadelphia but when it was relocated, the activity slowed dramatically.
In 1977, the USS Sullivan was donated to the Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park (Buffalo, New York). In 1986, the ship was designated as a National Historical Landmark. http://www.buffalonavalpark.org/index.html
The story of the five Sullivan brothers and their deaths led to immediate policy changes within the U.S. Navy regarding family members serving together. The story of the haunting is not well known outside the small group of people who worked on board and experienced the spirits of George, Francis (Frank), Joseph (Red), Madison (Matt) and Albert (Al) Sullivan.