Ottawa resident writes concert band piece honoring Sullivan brothers

By Jennifer Peryam -




Source: Courtesy of Paul Baransy

Watch a performance of “We Stick Together,” performed by the Waterloo Municipal Band last year.

OTTAWA — Ottawa resident Paul Baransy has used his love and skill of music by writing a band composition and narrated piece that honors the Sullivan brothers, who served in the Navy during World War II.

Baransy, 65, was assistant band director at Ottawa-Glandorf High School for 12 years, retiring in 2012. He also was a band director at Continental High School for 18 years.

The music he wrote will be performed at Navy Pier in Chicago on July 3 by the Navy Band, Great Lakes. Baransy will watch with his wife, Ann.

The first performance will be June 26 in Rock Island by Navy Band, Great Lakes, and on July 4 will be at the Great Lakes Training Center on the north side of Chicago, where Navy members complete their basic training.

The title of the composition is “We Stick Together,” as it was the Sullivan Brothers’ motto. They wanted to be in the service only if they could go on the same ship.

The Sullivan brothers were the sons of Thomas and Alleta Sullivan of Waterloo, Iowa. They included George Thomas, Francis Henry “Frank,” Joseph Eugene “Joe,” Madison Abel “Matt” and Albert Leo “Al.” They were World War II sailors who served together on the light cruiser USS Juneau and were killed when the ship was struck by a torpedo around Nov. 13, 1942.

“The Sullivan family made a large sacrifice to lose that many sons at one time, and their families weren’t the only ones to make a sacrifice. That is why their story lives on,” Baransy said.

“My wife and I have family in Cedar Falls-Waterloo, Iowa, where the Sullivan brothers are from, and I have known about their story for a long time,” Baransy said. “I had written pieces for the Waterloo Municipal Band and had the idea to write the piece of music for a narrator and band selection.”

The narrator for the piece is Kelly Sullivan, who is the granddaughter of Al Sullivan, one of the brothers.

The piece was performed last summer by the Waterloo Municipal Band, where Baransy conducted the music and narration and the band was directed by Bill Shepherd. It can be seen on YouTube at

This is not the first time he has written a musical selection for the band, as he wrote the selection “Propeller” and has completed a piece for the Wadsworth Community Band in Wadsworth, Ohio.

“I did a lot of research, and it took me about as much time to write the script as it did to write the music. I worked on it for nine months,” Baransy said.

The music and narrated selection is approximately 12 minutes. The selection includes Irish music to honor the brother’s Irish heritage, and also patriotic songs such as “The Navy Hymn” and “Anchors Aweigh,” the Navy’s song.

He described the Sullivan brothers as normal men who lived, worked and had fun, but when Peal Harbor Attack happened they wanted to volunteer and be a part of the war effort.

After their sons died, their parents went out and spoke about the war effort, and there have been ships named after the Sullivan Brothers.

“There aren’t any Navy guys who don’t know who the Sullivan brothers were,” Baransy said.

The performance can be found on You Tube by typing in Paul Baransy “We Stick Together.”


By Jennifer Peryam

Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

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Video Caption:Watch a performance of “We Stick Together,” performed by the Waterloo Municipal Band last year.
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Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

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