Gunnery Sgt. Thomas Sullivan was a marine, a son, a brother, and a friend. He was 40-years-old when he made the ultimate sacrifice on July 16th of 2015. 

Sullivan helped more than a dozen of his fellow servicemen escape when a gunman opened fire at the Naval Reserve Center on Amnicola Highway. He turned back for two others who were unaccounted for when he was shot and killed.

"What he did was very honorable and it was a great deed, so we just want to maintain that honor and carry it forward. That's how we honor his memory," Joe Sullivan, Sullivan's brother said.

That's how Joe said his brother lived his life by putting others before himself. He survived two tours of duty in Iraq and was a two-time Purple Heart recipient.

Just this past April, his family was honored with a third purple heart awarded to the gunnery sergeant for his heroic actions that day.

"Tommy's looking down from heaven, probably saying 'Why are you doing all this? I was just doing my job and duty.' Brave and courageous efforts," Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said.

The Springfield, Massachusetts native loved serving his country, but even more than that, he enjoyed being an uncle to his nephew and 3 nieces. His fellow marines said Sullivan was always someone you could count on and took charge in high-stress situations.

He also had a lighter side and would tell jokes.

Sullivan was posthumously awarded the prestigious Lt. J. Frank Murphy Medal of Valor. It's an annual award given by the Springfield Veterans' Activities Committee to a Springfield resident who risked their life to save others.

A park has also been named in his honor.

The decorated marine was laid to rest with full military honors in his hometown at the Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery.