SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- Family, friends, and fellow servicemen of Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan said their final goodbyes Monday morning.
The Springfield native, along with four of his fellow servicemen, was shot and killed on July 16 after a gunman opened fire at a recruiting station and a Navy facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Sullivan’s funeral and burial were both private, but thousands gathered on the streets to show their respect. The funeral was held in Springfield at Holy Cross Church, and was followed by a burial service at the Massachusetts Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Agawam, Massachusetts.
"Not many people can do what this man did, to put his life on the line for all the families of the United States. It means a lot, it should mean a lot to everybody. So this is the least I can do to pay my respects to him and his family," onlooker Chris Lombardi, from Agawam, said.
The funeral procession then traveled down Sumner Avenue from Perkins Street to Longhill Street, and then made its way to Agawam and the Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery. It was led by nearly 1,300 motorcycles including members of the Patriot Riders.
"One of our other members here was in a battle that, Tom Sullivan, if he hadn't showed up with his group, they probably wouldn't have gotten out of it," Massachusetts Patriot Rider Rick Prater said.
The family of Sullivan asked the public to come out along the funeral procession route to honor this fallen hero on the way to his final resting place.
Sullivan joined the military in 1997 and served three tours of duty, two in Iraq. He was a recipient of two Purple Hearts. He was 40-years-old.