First Tenn. Military Victim Identified

Marine Gunnery Sgt. Thomas J. Sullivan.

That’s the name of one of the first victims to be identified in Thursday’s senseless attack on two military buildings in Chattanooga, Tenn., by a Kuwati-born young man who was killed as a result of his actions.

Sullivan was a native of Springfield, Mass., and had served since 1997, according to Fox News. The local Massachusetts paper says his family has confirmed the loss. Sullivan’s brother, Joe, a vet himself, owns a local pub. On the Facebook page for that establishment, Nathan Bill’s Bar & Restaurant, a post honors Sullivan’s service:

Rest In Peace Gunnery SGT. Thomas Sullivan. Anyone who went to Holy Cross School, Cathedral High School or grew up in…

Posted by Nathan Bill's Bar&Restaurant on Thursday, July 16, 2015

The local paper describes the heartbreaking scene at the family’s home:

In Hampden, a suburb of Springfield that has retained its rural character despite the pressures of modernity, the Sullivan clan was trying to come to terms with a family story that’s still too raw to explain in rational terms to the younger generation of Sullivans.

Joe Sullivan, by all accounts a guy with a good head on his shoulders, buried his face into a friend’s shoulder, cursing the confusion and surreal nature of the day’s events.

The family produced the sterile military document announcing Tommy’s death, a piece of paper that didn’t seem any more important than the TV Guide, reporting his passing matter-of-factly and without much detail. They looked at it, sipped their beers, then tried to process what had happened.

Jerry Sullivan, a Hungry Hill kid at heart, was stunned by the document, sent by U.S. military officials to let the Sullivans know that their middle child had been killed for reasons yet unknown.

Sullivan was 40 years old and the recipient of the purple heart.

The gunman, 24-year-old Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez, was killed by police in a shootout.

Follow the author of this story on Twitter: