Photo by Matthew Healey
Former high school history teacher Ernie Sullivan visits the gravesite of WWI soldier Fred C. Dulevitz at Everett's Glenwood Cemetery.
Gone and long forgotten war heroes have a friend in retired history teacher Ernie Sullivan, who yesterday unveiled a tombstone at the grave of a highly decorated Chelsea soldier slain in World War I.
Fred Dulevitz lived in Newburyport, Chelsea, and Connecticut before he enlisted and was later slain near Verdun in 1918. He was buried in an unmarked grave in 1921 at Everett's Glenwood Cemetery. A history class research project led Sullivan to the unmarked grave, which he located after more than an hour of hunting through the grass.
"We didn't realize that it was a plot with no headstone," Sullivan said. "Joseph Hickey, the Everett Veteran's service agent, he called Washington, got the paperwork going . . . once the VA was certain, a stone was ordered."
In 1916, Dulevitz ran away from Chelsea to Connecticut to enlist at age 17. His Connecticut unit was absorbed into a larger division that was assigned the perilous duty of driving the broken, but defiant German Army out of France in October 1918.
Dulevitz was near Verdun, the previous sight of one of the deadliest battles in human history, when he volunteered to run a vital message through enemy positions to a battalion commander. The mission proved fatal for the 19-year-old, who was instantly killed in "murderous fire," according to the citation of his Distinguished Service Cross, which was awarded posthumously for his sacrifice.
Dulevitz was first buried in France, then exhumed and interned at Glenwood Cemetery, where his location was recorded, but left unmarked.
With the headstone ordered, Sullivan said he then pulled off what he thought was impossible: He tracked down one of Dulevitz' surviving relatives, his nephew, Air Force Lt. Col. Alexander Dulevitz, who as it turns out, only recently discovered his heroic uncle.
With Hickey's help, Sullivan planned yesterday's ceremony including a visit by the younger Dulevitz and an official with the French Consulate, who spoke about the soldier's sacrifice on behalf of the nation.
"The whole thing is a sense of accomplishment," Sullivan said. "Watching a descendant stand there and look down and think about, this is my uncle. He got very emotional."