Byline: Rushmie Kalke
WESTBORO - When Stephen Eric Sullivan died in Iraq nearly two years ago, his family mourned the loss of a man who had accomplished so much in his life and who still had so much to give. The country grieved for a brave soldier who gave his life to uphold freedom.
To honor his service, Mr. Sullivan was posthumously given an award by a law enforcement organization last month.
Mr. Sullivan, 40, a diplomatic security special agent with the State Department, was killed Sept. 19, 2005, by a suicide bomber. He was serving on protective detail in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul when his convoy was attacked. The bomb blast also killed three private American security guards. Mr. Sullivan had been assigned to Baghdad, but was serving a temporary post in Mosul.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association awarded Mr. Sullivan the Medal of Valor at its annual banquet in Jacksonville, Fla., last month. Mr. Sullivan was among 13 federal officers killed in the line of duty who were honored at the banquet.
"He just couldn't believe that he was paid to do the job he loved," said his father, Robert Sullivan, a Westboro resident and retired teacher at Burncoat High School, Worcester. "If he had to do it all over again, he would do it all over again."
Mr. Sullivan grew up in Westboro and graduated from the town's high school in 1983. He joined the U.S. Marine Corps and spent most of his career in government service, including the Navy and the San Diego Job Corps Center, where he worked with at-risk youth. He received his bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Westfield State College in 1992 and a master's in forensic science from National University in La Jolla, Calif.
He joined the State Department's Diplomatic Security Service in 2002, volunteering to protect important American and foreign officials in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was assigned to the Miami field office and within two years, he became an assistant regional security officer in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Mr. Sullivan went to Mosul in 2005 to fix a security problem, which he was able to do in a couple of weeks. He was going to return to his permanent assignment in Baghdad not too long after, Robert Sullivan said.
"He was just such a good kid," his father said. "It's just such a shame - he had so much to offer."
He was back in Washington for the Fourth of July before his death, and his family went there to spend time with him. They watched the fireworks light up the sky against...