For years, Bob Kaprielian has been interviewing Watertown’s veterans to find out about the stories of serving in the United States military, but his latest episode of A Veteran’s Story will be different because it focuses on one of the town’s fallen heroes.
Kaprielian interviewed family members, friends and those who were impacted by Lt. Paul Sullivan, who died in action in Vietnam on Aug. 9, 1968.
Sullivan went into the Army Rangers and he trained at Fort Benning, Georgia, before being shipped to Vietnam. He arrived during some of the fiercest fighting of the Vietnam War. The year he got there started with the Tet Offensive.
However, Sullivan is still remembered for what he did living in Watertown. Kaprielian said he remembers the young man who he saw working with youngsters at local parks.
“Paul, when he was going to Boston College, worked as a Recreation Department playground supervisor,” Kaprielian said. “I lived on Mt. Auburn Street and I saw Paul. He was like the Pied Piper – where ever he went kids followed him around. He was an All-American guy. Kids loved him.”
Though he recognized him, Kaprielian did not know his name, and it took him a little while to make the connection that the local man killed in Vietnam was the same man he saw working with kids at the park.
Sullivan’s name can be seen around Watertown. There is a playground named for him in Coolidge Square and his family established a scholarship in his name, that is still being presented nearly 50 years later and has provided nearly $400,000 for Watertown students.
Kaprielian spoke to Paul’s brother Tom, who is a retired director of the Watertown Recreation Department, and his sister Eleanor Donato, a retired Watertown Middle School teacher.
He also spoke to John Woodland, who had Sullivan as a substitute teacher when he was a student at West Junior High School. Woodland’s son Ken, a Town Councilor, is a recipient of the Lt. Paul Sullivan Scholarship.
Several other people were interviewed for the piece too, including Boston College hockey coach and Watertown resident Jerry York.
Many of the scholarship winners do not know about who the man was that the scholarship they received is named after. Kaprielian said he hopes this episode of A Veteran’s Story helps them learn about him.
“It makes a real person out of the name,” Kaprielian said.
The Lt. Paul Sullivan episode of A Veteran’s Story premiers on Thursday, May 11 at 7:30 p.m. on WCA-TV. Watertown Xfinity Comcast subscribers will be able to watch on channel 9. RCN subscribers can watch on channel 3. It will also be streamed on WCATV.org.ss