World War II was the most terrible conflict in world history. Sixty million people died in it, including 400,000 Americans. Our “Greatest Generation” proved itself worthy of what President Franklin Roosevelt called “a rendezvous with destiny” and defeated the three totalitarian titans of Nazi Germany, Italy and imperial Japan and ended the genocidal Holocaust.
No family sacrificed more at one time, in that or any other war, than the Sullivan family of Waterloo. George, Francis Joseph, Madison and Albert Sullian died after their ship, the cruiser USS Juneau, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sunk Nov. 13, 1942. It was the greatest loss of life in battle by one family at one time in American history.
The Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum commemorates its namesake family by re-creating of a portion of the Sullivans’ boyhood home; statues of the five brothers, and a replica of the bow of the USS Juneau, which visitors may walk out on overlooking the atrium, to view a replica to-scale P-51 Mustang flown by late Mason City fighter ace Robert Abernathy.
Other major elements of the World War II section of the museum include two new items, overlapping with the Korea War exhibit: a new interactive video screen chronicling both wars; and an exhibit on the state’s namesake warship, the USS Iowa, which saw service in both conflicts.
A replica Sherman tank can also be found in the World War II exhibit, a re-created Navy berthing area and ward room, and various pieces of weaponry and equipment used by all sides.