On November 13, 2017, approximately 2,000 Marines who have served this country since World War II to the current day War on Terrorism gathered at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center for the 242nd annual Marine Corps Birthday celebration sponsored by the Boston Semper Fidelis Society. Medal of Honor recipients, retired generals and dignitaries, including Governor Baker, were introduced before the Guest of Honor and Boston’s own General Joseph Dunford, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made his way into the hall. Attendees included Veterans from the wars of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea and WWII - including Malden’s Jim Hanley, the Grand Marshal at this year’s Veterans Day parade.
For one Malden family it was a very special day as the Senior U.S. Military Officer General Dunford spoke about a Malden Marine hero, John R. “Jackie” Meuse, and his best friend, Peter M. Sullivan who were killed in action in Vietnam in 1967. Jackie’s brother Dana Muese and his sister Judy Meuse Marshall were invited to the luncheon to share in a very special tribute to their brother who was only 18 when he was killed in action just a few weeks after his best friend Peter Sullivan was killed.
Dana was only 12 and Judy just two years old when their brother Jackie was killed. They understood growing up that he had done something special in Vietnam that earned him the Navy Cross, the Nation’s second highest award under the Medal of Honor, but they never heard it from a four star general. Jackie and his best friend Peter Sullivan graduated from Malden Vocational High School in 1966 and joined the Marine Corps on the buddy system.
General Dunford spoke about the two young Malden Marines killed in action and how Jackie and Peter had answered our Nation’s call. On February 8, 1967, Peter was serving with M Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, and 1st Marine Division during Operation Desoto. He was with a reconnaissance patrol and assaulted enemy positions at An Trang Village. During that exchange of fire two Marines were killed in Quang Ngai and one of them was Peter. General Dunford then talked about Jackie who served as a radio-operator with the 3rd Marine Division. He spoke about the heroism of the 18 year old Marine who though severely wounded, held his position and kept his superiors aware of the enemy’s strength and location after they overran his unit. Jackie’s selfless refusal to leave his own position, when medical aid may have saved him, and his skillful appraisal of the situation, contributed materially to the success of the battle and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Before they were separated into different units in Vietnam, Jackie Meuse and Peter Sullivan had made a pact. They promised each other that if one of them was killed that the other one would find the grave and make sure that he received a 21 gun salute to honor the other’s sacrifice.
Neither Peter nor Jackie ever expected that they would both become two of Malden’s 19 men to die in Vietnam. Neither one ever expected that a Four Star General from Boston with 40 years of active duty and the son of a Korean War Combat Marine would eulogize them in front of 2,000 Marines 50 years later. Today the names of PFC John Meuse and PFC Peter Sullivan are memorialized on a bronze plaque located in Oak Grove Square in Malden, MA with U.S. Marine Corps and U.S. Flags flying in their honor.
Released by the Office of Mayor Gary Christenson