In the News

Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan Park Dedicated

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan’s family, the Springfield Park Commission, and Patrick Sullivan, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management, held a dedication ceremony this morning for the new $695,000 park made possible by city funding, private donations, and a Parkland Acquisition and Renovations for Communities (PARC) grant from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.

Mayor Sarno petitioned the Park Commission to name the park in honor of GySgt Thomas Sullivan after his tragic death on June 16, 2015. The Commission voted in December of 2015 to name the park in GySgt Sullivan’s honor. The city, in conjunction with the East Forest Park Civic Association and area residents, developed a master plan for this park.  Improvements included grading the sloped terrain, planting trees, creating an accessible path to the water’s edge for kayaking, a new pavilion, ADA walking paths, benches, a flagpole and a kiosk.  During the past year, the project developed great support and includes over $45,000 in donations from the business community for the construction of a 25x25 foot pavilion overlooking Lake Massasoit.

Mayor Sarno stated, “I am thrilled that our city is honoring the legacy of Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan with this park.  GySgt Sullivan grew up in East Forest Park, and was a Springfield guy at heart even while being stationed around the globe. He served our country for eighteen years with valor and loved being a Marine.  During his service, he saved countless lives, improved conditions of the innocent overseas, and, while protecting our country, he never forgot his Springfield heritage.”

Park Chairman Brian Santaniello said, “The Park Commission would like to thank the Sullivan family for playing a vital role in the planning process for this park.  We thank the East Forest Park residents for working with the Parks Department on design and construction aspects of this park.  The success of any project depends on neighborhood support and input.  Today, we are honoring the legacy of a true American hero and this park will serve to remind us all of the sacrifices that are made every day for our freedom.” 

Executive Director Patrick Sullivan stated, “On behalf of the staff of the Parks Department, it has been an honor to work with the Sullivan family and the residents of East Forest Park in the creation of Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan Park.  This park will serve to remind all of us of the importance of serving our country and fellow man. GySgt Sullivan’s love for his country, his fellow Marines, and his family is engraved into the landscape of this park. I am so grateful to his parents, Jerry and Betty, his sister Dianne and his brother Joe for allowing us to share Tommy’s legacy with Springfield residents and all who choose to visit this park.” 

Additional information:


It is with great respect that this park is dedicated in honor of

Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan, USMC


Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan gave his life while defending his country on Thursday, July 16, 2015, during an attack on the Naval Reserve Center in Chattanooga, Tennessee.  His heroic, unselfish actions that day saved countless lives of Marines, Naval Servicemen, and civilians passing outside the reserve.  His bravery and love for his fellow Marines and mankind was exhibited on that fateful day. Tommy was born in Springfield, Massachusetts on March 22, 1975 to Jeremiah “Jerry” and Mary “Betty” (Vecchiarelli) Sullivan.  He grew up in the East Forest Park neighborhood of Springfield, attended Holy Cross School, and graduated from Cathedral High School.  Tommy received his Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and his Master’s Degree posthumously from American Military University.  GySgt Sullivan proudly served in the United States Marine Corps for 18 years.  He was last assigned to Mike Battery, 3rd Battalion, 14th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Corps Reserve. GySgt Sullivan was a recipient of the following awards, which are listed in order of precedence:


  • Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroism on July 16, 2015
  • Purple Heart Medal with two Gold Stars for wounds received in action against the enemy on November 9, 2004; April 2, 2005; and July 16, 2015 in Chattanooga, Tennessee resulting in his death
  • Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal for service during the period August 1, to December 1, 2001
  • Combat Action Ribbon for Service in Iraq on November 2, 2004
  • Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal with four Bronze Stars
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Iraq Campaign Medal with one Bronze Campaign Star for service from 2007 to 2008
  • Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal for service in Iraq from 2004 to 2005
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Korean Defense Service Medal
  • Humanitarian Service Medal for participation in the relief efforts of Hurricane
  • Katrina in 2005
  • Sea Service Deployment Ribbon with one Silver Star
  • Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon
  • Rifle Expert Badge (Second Award)
  • Pistol Marksman Badge


These awards illustrate Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan’s unrelenting passion for democracy and the protection of this sacred right. One can only imagine the thousands of lives saved abroad due to his love of country and fellow man. He was very proud of serving his country and loved being a Marine.  He served with distinction and honor and it is for this unselfish commitment to our nation that we honor his legacy.  The City of Springfield would like to thank his parents, Jerry and Betty, his sister Dianne, and his brother Joe for their participation in the design of this park. The Sullivan Family has great memories of East Forest Park and Tommy and Joe spent countless hours here during their childhood.   Please enjoy this picturesque setting and take a moment to quietly reflect on the freedoms that Gunnery Sergeant Thomas J. Sullivan served to protect.



Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm