Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Monday, December 7, 2015

Steve Sullivan aka “Sully”



“In 1917 my grandfather, Edward M. Sullivan, was fighting in the first World War in France as a pilot. It was at the very beginning of the air war, of air travel. He had a partner and they would alternate flying; one day he would fly and his partner would throw ordnance (artillery) out of the plane, and the next day they would switch. Back then the bombs weren’t attached to the plane, they were stacked up in the cockpit.

As you can imagine, the planes were very slow, it was 1917, and they had to fly low, they had to see who they were throwing bombs at, so of course those people could see them! The people on the ground had guns and they would shoot back.

My grandfather and his partner got shot up really badly one day and by the time they got back to the base my grandfather’s partner was dead and he was shot and wounded very, very badly. In triage, the medics moved people to the left they thought they could save, and to the right the people they gave morphine to and allowed them expire as comfortably as possible. My grandfather was given a toe tag and moved to the right.

The right side was a very serious place to be, so they brought in another doctor to give a second opinion. If ever someone needed a second opinion, that was the spot! So the doctor gets to my grandfather, who is conscious, and reads the toe tag. Edward M. Sullivan, Brooklyn NY. The doctor asked my grandfather ‘Are you any relation to Iron Mike Sullivan from Brooklyn?’ My grandfather replied ‘that is my father’. The doctor told the orderly to move him to the left, they were going to save his life.

The doctor was a Jewish kid from Brooklyn. The only thing more difficult than being Jewish at the turn of the century was being Irish in Brooklyn. This Jewish kid was kicking around Brooklyn looking for a job so he could pay for college. He couldn’t get a job for love nor money. He went into a riding stable, which later became Prospect Park, and the stable master gave him a job mucking out stalls. More importantly the stable master shared his tea with this kid, talked to him, asked him about what his plans were, and treated him like a human being.

This kid ended up going to medical school and became a doctor. He is sent to France in the First World War. He is the doctor that read the toe tag on my grandfather. If it wasn’t for that happenstance, that one in a million shot; of that individual who was befriended by my great grandfather and being the one to make a decision about my grandfather, I wouldn’t be here, nor would anyone else in my clan.

You could make a movie out of this story; the best part about it …it’s a true story.”


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