A San Diego-based retired Marine is sharing memories of his friend and fellow service member, Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan, one of the five service members gunned down in Chattanooga, Tenn., Thursday in what law enforcement authorities are investigating as an act of domestic terrorism.
Marine Staff Sergeant (ret.) Clayton Treska served with Sullivan between 1998 and 2002. They were in the same battalion in Camp Lejeune and then the same unit at Marine Corps Base Quantico. Treska knew Sullivan as “Sully.”
“Sully was always very mild mannered and good natured. Always friendly. Always the type of person who was willing to help you,” he shared exclusively with NBC 7’s Candice Nguyen Friday evening. “Honestly, that’s a rarity in the dynamic of the personalities that comprise of the Marines.”
“As general, mild-mannered as he was, he wasn’t soft at all. He was a Marine,” Treska said. “It’s great to have that genuine nature in somebody, but it never took away from his ability to fight a good fight and be the Marine, the warriors we knew him to be.”
Treska said Sullivan was a two-time recipient of the Purple Heart.
Authorities have not released a possible motive for the shooting, only that it’s being investigated as an act of domestic terrorism.
Treska says, in light of this, the dynamic of the battlefield for this generation of service members has changed.
“This generation and this particular war on terror unfortunately, [terror] can also penetrate our native soil as well,” he said. “Now with all the terrorist attacks at home and targeting service members in uniform…it means that now that you’re home and it’s time to acclimate to real life, you’re not afforded that opportunity anymore.”
Treska finds visiting places like Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery helps with processing these thoughts. He says remembering our fallen heroes grounds him, and reminds him to focus his attention on their service and sacrifice.
“I’m honored and proud to have served this country. I’m honored and proud to have served with Sully,” he said.