USS Juneau discovered: The five brothers who went down together with the sunken battleship  

USS Juneau discovered: The five brothers who went down together with the sunken battleship  The USS Juneau is the latest Second World War wreck to be discovered by a team funded by billionaire Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. The discovery on March 17 locates another mass grave of American servicemen, as only 10 of its almost 700-strong crew survived its sinking during the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942. Among the hundreds who went down with the ship were five brothers, the Sullivans, who had insisted on serving together despite US military policies designed to avoid multiple losses to a single family. The story of the siblings had a profound effect on the American public and prompted the implementation of the Sole Survivor Policy, which led to the events that the film Saving Private Ryan is based on. The Sullivans have since been feted in the US as “epitomising the service and sacrifice of our nation’s greatest generation”. The brothers and the other sailors on the USS Juneau gave their lives in the bloody efforts to wrestle the Solomon Islands from Japanese Imperial control and was the first time the Allies mounted a successful assault on Japan’s Pacific empire. Prelude to the battle The Battle of Guadalcanal came as the Allies finally managed to check Imperial Japan’s all-conquering advance in the Pacific. Since the surprise attack at Pearl Harbour in December 1941, Japanese forces had swept all before them and by the following spring were threatening to attack mainland Australia. The US Navy ship sunk by the Japanese torpedoes 76 years ago was found in the South Pacific Credit: Paul Allen  In May 1942 Japan launched a two-pronged assault to capture Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Island of Tulagi, which would have put land-based Japanese bombers in range of northern Australia. However by this time the Allies had partially cracked the Japanese communication codes and a Australian-American naval force managed to stymie the invasion of Port Moresby at the Battle of the Coral sea, although the Japanese were able to maintain a foothold in the Solomon Islands. A month later the Allies inflicted a crippling blow on the hitherto undefeated Japanese navy at the Battle of Midway, cleared the way for an assault to roll back the imperial presence in the Pacific. Battle of Guadalcanal In August 1942 an Allied force lead by the US invaded the Solomon Islands of Tugali, Guadalcanal and Florida. As well as nixing the Japanese threat to Allied supply lines, the capture of the islands was intended to provide a launch pad for an assault on the main Japanese naval base in the theatre, Rabaul, on New Britain. The battle on the islands lasted for months and involved numerous naval and air engagements as well as invasions and counter invasions of the archipelago. The Japanese did not relinquish their attempts to retake Guadalcanal until February 1943. USS Juneau wreck discovery map It was in November that the USS Juneau was downed while escorting US reinforcements headed for Guadalcanal, just more than a year after it had been launched.  The Atlantic-Class light cruiser, which was named after the city of Juneau in Alaska, was attacked with its convoy by 30 Japanese aircraft while unloading at the island and managed to shoot down six enemy torpedo bombers in the exchange. The US convoy was then attacked by a larger Japanese naval force and the the Juneau was hit by a torpedo in the side, causing the vessel to list. It then forced to withdraw with two other damaged cruisers, the Helena and the San Francisco. As they made their way from the battle a Japanese destroyer launched two torpedoes intended for the San Francisco, but they missed and one hit the Juneau in the hole where the previous torpedo had struck. The impact caused a huge explosion which split the Juneau in two and sank it in under a minute. Most of the vessel’s more than 680 crew were killed in the explosion, but around 100 survived. However fearing further attack and wrongly assuming there were no survivors, the Helena and San Francisco fled. One of the Sullivan brothers was rumoured to be among the survivors left in the water for eight days before another ship came to rescue them. Neither were among the 10 survivors eventually pulled from the water. The 'Fighting Sullivan Brothers' The five Sullivan brothers enlisted together at a US Navy recruiting station in Iowa on 3 January 1942 but tragically none would ever return from the war. Upon signing up, the close-knit brothers insisted on serving together on the same ship and were assigned to USS Juneau throughout its deployment in the South Pacific. The wreckage from the USS Juneau was found off the coast of the Solomon Islands Credit: Paul Allen US Navy policy, although never strongly enforced, was to separate family members following the death of three brothers on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor in 1941, although the Sullivans persisted and their request was approved. Ten months after signing up, four of the brothers were killed in the initial explosion after Juneau was struck on the port side by a torpedo launched by Japanese destroyer Amatsukaze. The eldest of the brothers, 27-year-old George Thomas, who was wounded the night before Juneau was sunk, made it onto a raft. He is believed to have survived for five days in the water but would eventually succumb to either his wounds and exhaustion or a shark attack. Legacy The Sullivans – George Thomas, Francis "Frank" Henry, Joseph "Joe" Eugene, Madison "Matt" Abel and  Albert "Al" Leo – were revered and honoured as war heroes, all posthumously receiving Purple Heart Medals. While their deaths became a rallying cry for the Allies, it also brought into focus US Navy policy regarding family members serving together at sea. While involuntary separation was considered, no such law has ever been enacted. Wreckage from the USS Juneau Credit: Paul Allen The deaths of the Sullivans and the Borgstrom brothers, four siblings killed during six months fighting in the Second World War, lead to the implementation of the Sole Survivor Policy which protects families who have already lost family members in combat. Steven Spielberg’s Second World War epic Saving Private Ryan, in which a band of US soldiers is sent to bring back the sole surviving brother of four, James Ryan, from the battle in Normandy, also references the Sullivan brothers in one scene. Mr Spielberg later thanked the Sullivan family in his 1999 Oscars acceptance speech. Two US Navy destroyers – the DD-537 and DDG-68 – were also named The Sullivans in honour of the brothers, with motto is "We stick together". Vice Adm. Rich Brown, fifth commanding officer of USS The Sullivans (DDG 68), said he was “excited” about the discovery of Juneau. “The story of the USS Juneau crew and Sullivan brothers epitomise the service and sacrifice of our nation’s greatest generation,” he said. “I had the opportunity to visit The Sullivans earlier this month and I can tell you the fighting spirit of the Sullivan brothers lives on through the fantastic crew that mans the ship today. The crew embodies the ship’s motto, ‘We Stick Together’ each day. “My time on The Sullivans and the relationship I formed with the ship’s sponsor, Kelly, the granddaughter of Albert, are some of my most cherished memories.” President Roosevelt and Pope Pius XII were among those who sent a letter of condolence to their parents and a museum built in their honour was opened in their hometown of Waterloo, Iowa, in 2008. Paul Allen’s mission to find WW2 wrecks Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen has funded several high-profile shipwreck exploration projects, including the discovery of the Second World War aircraft carrier, the USS Lexington, earlier this month. WWII ship USS Juneau located by #RVPetrel on St. Patrick’s Day—unexpected coincidence since she is best known for the Sullivans, all 5 brothers were lost, along with the other 682 sailors. Only 10 survived the sinking by Japanese torpedoes.— Paul Allen (@PaulGAllen) March 19, 2018 The 65-year-old, one of the world’s richest men, called locating USS Juneau on St. Patrick’s Day an “unexpected coincidence” given the family’s Irish heritage. Allen, whose father served in the US Army, has been “fascinated” with Second World War history since his youth and has helped uncover various vessels sunk during the global conflict. His team located the enormous Japanese warship Musashi in 2015 and  helped retrieve the ship’s bell from the British battlecruiser HMS Hood in 2015. Underwater wrecks discovered by Paul Allen The USS Lexington, or “Lady Lex”, was discovered in deep waters 500 miles off Australia’s north-east coast on 4 March. “As Americans, all of us owe a debt of gratitude to everyone who served and who continue to serve our country for their courage, persistence and sacrifice,” said Mr Allen.

Yahoo News – Latest News & Headlines