Massachusetts pays respects to hometown hero

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (NEWS10) –Thousands of Patriot Guard Riders and Massachusetts residents came together today for one mission – to pay their respects to Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan — who they say can never be forgotten as a hometown hero.

It was a scorching 90 degree Monday, but that was the last thing on people’s minds in one Springfield neighborhood.

One by one, residents filled the sidewalk surrounding the Holy Cross Church, each holding an American flag tightly, remembering 40-year old Gunnery Sergeant Thomas Sullivan.

“We just wanted to show some support to the family and the military. I went to his church, I went to his school, I know he went to the cathedral as well and I did too, so I just wanted to show him some support. That’s all,” said Ann Cieboter.

Sullivan was one of five service members killed in the mass shooting on a military facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee on July 16 – an unexpected event that’s left many speechless.

“It was just shocking. Just shocking and horrible,” said Karen Authier.

Thousands of Patriot Guard Riders, law enforcement and veterans stood tall with their flags, honoring a fallen brother and a hometown hero.

“It’s something that needs to be done. It’s something that all of us took an oath to defend all enemies – far and domestic and this is a domestic enemy,” said Carl Dumas, Gulf War Veteran.

One couple told me their daughter knew Sergeant Sullivan and this is how he was remembered.

“He was just a wonderful, kind, caring boy. He really loved everybody and the kids loved him,” saidKaren Authier.

A marine who not only was the symbol of brotherhood and freedom, but also a Massachusetts resident that left an unforgettable mark on those he once knew.

After the funeral, Sullivan will be brought to Massachusetts Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Agawam where he will be privately laid to rest.

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