This personal recollection by John H. Sullivan ’38 is a fascinating firsthand account of a specific chapter and operation of the war. With an engineer’s attention to detail, it chronicles his experience building numerous airstrips to serve the needs of the Allies as they advance across Europe after D-Day. In our age of purpose-built everything, it’s enlightening to be reminded of the resourcefulness the times required. It’s also an example of how the leadership of one well-trained Mines alumnus made a significant contribution to the war effort, there are countless more. The citation for Sullivan’s Bronze Star Medal gives an overview of his experience, but we recommend downloading the PDF and saving it for a long flight or a quiet evening read. And we invite you to share your thoughts and experiences below.
CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE BRONZE STAR MEDAL
Captain John H. Sullivan, O-365910, Corps of Engineers, 926th Engineer Aviation Regiment, United States Army. For meritorious conduct in the performance of services from 17 June 1944 to 8 May 1945. As reconnaissance party chief of a battalion reconnaissance team from the invasion of Normandy to the stabilization of the front across the Moselle River. Captain Sullivan (then First Lieutenant) displayed fortitude, skill, and devotion to duty in the successful accomplishment of all assigned tasks. His work, always characterized by extreme accuracy and promptness of completion, contributed materially to the air cooperation with ground operations in France. Upon moving into Germany, Captain Sullivan distinguished himself by his coordination of the reconnaissance effort leading to the Darmstadt-Mannheim group of airfields for the XII Tactical Air Command and the Nurnberg group of strips for the XIX Tactical Air Command. Personally investigating many of these sites before they were cleared of mines and often during the progress of battle nearby, Captain Sullivan evidenced courage, technical skill, and great perseverance to contribute materially to the progress of the Allied Forces across Germany. Entered military service from Colorado.
HQ IX Engineer Command