Once in a while, you have the privilege to meet someone extraordinary, even it is vicariously through the internet. As we were gearing up to publish our inaugural edition of this magazine, I was contacted by Paul & Bev Sullivan who had heard about us and Paul, a writer, offered to write a few humorous pieces chronicling some of the stories from ‘back in the day’ during his time in service as a USMC Captain.

After reading Paul’s piece, I knew I had to give him his own feature in every issue.  Not only were his stories well written, but the humor and bits of wisdom sprinkled in for good measure were exactly what this magazine needed.

So let me tell you a little bit more about Captain Sullivan…

He entered the National Guard at the age of 15, but because this was during the Korean War, they released him when they discovered he was too young to serve. At 17, he entered the Massachusetts Air National Guard and served through boot camp, at the time he was going to college he couldn’t make all the meetings, so they released him. In 1956, He entered Worcester State Teacher’s College and at the same time, the USMC Platoon Leaders’ Course in Quantico, VA.  He graduated college in 1958 with a BS in Education and was sworn into the USMC as a Second Lieutenant on the very same day.

After completing Officers’ Basic School, Capt. Sullivan was stationed in Hawaii for most of his enlistment in H Company, Second Battalion, 4th Marines, rising to the rank of Captain.  In his MOS, he frequently made trips to Taiwan to train Marines in Jungle warfare before they were sent to Vietnam. After Captain Sullivan’s active-duty discharge, he served 8 years in B Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marines of the USMC Reserves and became a teacher at a Youth Detention Center, a prison for hardcore kids, and worked there for 10 years, purposing to make a difference in those kids lives.

Paul eventually moved on teaching K-8th grades for several years before he went on to Administration for the remainder of his 40 years in education, all the while he continued his own education ending with a master’s degree in administration and Supervision of K-8.

After retirement, Paul became a substitute teacher, taught religious education, volunteered with Hospice Programs and at local hospitals in their Spiritual Care Departments. He has taken up writing and has written two books. Paul is also a budding artist, gardener, and an active member of a local men’s prayer group.

Paul & his wife Beverly were introduced to the “Stars Program”. They cut the stars off of retired flags and send the remnants on to be burned in a flag ceremony and then taking the stars giving them out in a small plastic bag about 1 /1/2 ” square (to fit into a wallet) with a little saying and give them out to veterans they meet. They also developed a program attaching one of the stars to a little parchment document to give out a ceremony for Veterans in Nursing Homes. Beverly recalls one such ceremony… “We had music for each of the branches as the person’s name would be called their music would play and Paul would salute them. Most would be wheeled up in wheelchairs, but they would salute right back. At the end, after the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard & National Guard were done, one man called out “I bet you don’t have one for me, I was in the Merchant Marines, and nobody gives a damn about us.” But what he didn’t know was that we had asked the nursing home to get us the names of anyone in the Merchant Marines also. If it wasn’t for them our troops would have been in really bad shape and those guys lives were in a lot of danger doing their jobs too. Paul said to him, well, we certainly do have an award for you. I played “Heave Ho! My Lads, Heave Ho!” and when he came up to the front of the room to get his certificate, he had tears running down his face….and so did Paul as he shook the man’s hand, two brothers from different branches showing each other respect for their service.”

Paul presently serves as the Chaplain of our Local Marine Corps League Detachment, chaplain of the Caddy Detachment – the local Devil Dog Pound. He is a LIFE Member of the Marine Corps League, a LIFE Member of the Vietnam Veterans of America and a Member of the American Legion Post.

I suppose it goes without saying, but Paul has a heart of gold and continues to touch the hearts of Veterans with everything that he does.  We are so incredibly grateful to have him as part of our AT EASE! Veterans Magazine family.  Semper Fi Captain Sullivan!

*This story was first published in the WINTER 2021 issue of ©AT EASE! Veterans Magazine. All Rights Reserved.