KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea --
On Feb. 3, 2002, the New England Patriots defeated the heavily favored St. Louis Rams, 20-17, in Super Bowl XXXVI to take home their first-ever Super Bowl victory.
The Patriots’ kicker, Adam Vinatieri, made a 48-yard field goal to win just as the clock hit zero. They shocked fans everywhere, including a young F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot, 1st Lt. Lawrence Sullivan, who was watching his hometown team from a dorm at Osan Air Base.
Sullivan finished F-16 training in October 2001, less than a month after 9/11, and was assigned to Osan AB a few short months later, where he watched the Patriots’ historic Super Bowl win. With the War in Afghanistan beginning, the majority of the U.S. military was being deployed in order to support the developing conflict.
“With the level of activity and pace of continuous deployments as a military since 2001, everyone serving today has known no different,” said Col. Sullivan. “The dwell to deploy ratio that we experience now is much different than those serving before our generation.”
Sullivan grew up in various states all over the U.S., following his father’s construction career and in essence, living the life of a military member before the thought to join the Armed Forces ever crossed his mind.
“I wanted to be a doctor or go into the medical field, but coming out of high school, the military also piqued my interest,” said Sullivan. “I had a few family members who served as Air Force officers, and I liked the idea of continuing the heritage.”
Sullivan applied to the Army’s West Point, the U.S. Naval Academy and U.S. Air Force Academy and began comparing the campuses and facilities.
“As part of the interview processes, I met with graduates from each academy to learn more about the schools and which would be the best fit,” said Sullivan. “When meeting with the West Point graduate, he said to me ‘Think about what service you want to be in after graduation; that is the most important part of your decision about college.”
Sullivan made the decision and graduated from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science in biochemistry before moving to Mississippi, where he attended undergraduate pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base.
“Ultimately, the mission, team and heritage the Air Force represented drew me in,” said Sullivan. “I admired the mission to defend the country through airpower, the strong team identity of Air Force culture, and the proud heritage of service of those who came before.”
Nearly two years after graduating from the Academy, Sullivan was finishing F-16 training in Texas when he met Teresa, a civilian waiting to attend Officer Training School. Teresa had a strong connection to Air Force heritage; her grandfather was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot and her father flew 76 B-52 Stratofortress missions in Vietnam.
Teresa commissioned in the Air Force in 2002 and the two were married a year later. Currently, Maj. Teresa Sullivan is a public affairs officer on the Headquarters Air Force Staff. While her husband, now Col. Sullivan, serves as the vice commander of the 8th Fighter Wing “Wolf Pack” at Kunsan AB, ROK, Maj. Sullivan continues to serve on the HAF staff while caring for their three daughters back home.
“I’m really fortunate to have met someone like Teresa,” said Sullivan. “Her willingness to serve in the Air Force and have a family together has made it possible for both of us to stay in. It’s a lot of work, but I’ve been able to continue in the Air Force because of the support of my family, and my wife can also serve because she has my support as well.”
With his family’s encouragement, Col. Sullivan has been able to meet new people and develop as a leader, Airman and pilot. He has held two joint staff positions and has served as a flight examiner, weapons officer and squadron commander, among other positions. Sullivan also served as an F-16 instructor pilot at the U.S. Air Force Weapons School at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
“You have America’s most promising young operators, working as hard as they can for 12 hours a day, six months straight, to pass the most challenging flying training program that exists,” said Sullivan. “It was extremely rewarding to work with people who are so determined to be better every day when they are already the best in the world at what they do.”
As 8th FW vice commander, this will be Sullivan’s fifth time stationed within Pacific Air Forces, having been stationed in Alaska, Japan and Korea previously. Since his time at Osan 18 years ago, the significance of the partnership between the Air Force and Republic of Korea Air Force in PACAF has only grown in importance.
“America cannot go and fight a conflict by itself. Just as important as winning in conflict, is being strong during peace time and deterring aggression,” said Sullivan. “Together, based on our ironclad alliance with South Korea, we can deter aggression – and if deterrence should fail, fight together and win.”
Although not his first time in Korea, this is Sullivan’s debut as a member of the Wolf Pack and in this leadership role.
As “Wolf 2,” Sullivan plays a key part in the planning, support and execution of military operations to include counter-air, aerial interdiction and close-air support on the Korean Peninsula. The 8th FW relies on its diverse and strong corps of Airmen, American and Korean, to be a resilient warfighting wing ready to deliver combat airpower at a moment's notice while honoring its heritage through an environment of teamwork, all while accomplishing the mission.
“One thing that is really special about Kunsan is the group identity and how it is stronger than any other base in the Air Force,” said Sullivan. “People naturally desire to be accepted as part of a tribe, and want to tell the world about that bond. I’m excited to finally be a member of the Wolf Pack, and look forward to accomplishing great things as part of this team.”