Paul Sullivan was born on January 25, 1915, in Marietta, Ohio. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve on January 25, 1930, and served as a Radioman, going on active duty beginning November 5, 1933. AS Sullivan completed basic training at NTS Norfolk, Virginia, in February 1934, and served aboard the battleship USS Idaho (BB-42) from February to July 1934. He then attended Hospital Corps School at Portsmouth, Virginia, from July to November 1934, followed by service at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C., from November 1934 to December 1937, having served as a Hospital Corpsman, Pharmacist's Mate, X-Ray Technician, and X-Ray Instructor during this time. PhM3c Sullivan's next assignment was at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia, from December 1937 to February 1938, and then aboard the submarine tender USS Bushnell (AS-2) from February to December 1938. He served aboard the ammunition ship USS Nitro (AE-2) from January to September 1939, and then served back at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Washington, D.C., from September 1939 to May 1940. PhM1c Sullivan next served with the 5th Medical Company, 1st Marine Brigade, Fleet Marine Force at Quantico, Virginia, from June 1940 to January 1942, followed by Submarine School at Submarine Base New London, Connecticut, from January to February 1942. He transferred to the crew of the submarine USS Grunion (SS-216) in February 1942 during her fitting out, and remained aboard through her commissioning in April 1942. He was killed in action during a confrontation with the armed Japanese freighter Kano Maru on July 30, 1942. On August 22, 2007, a search team organized by the three sons of CDR Mannert Abele (the Captain of the Grunion when she was sunk) used a remotely operated vehicle to find a sunken vessel 3,000 feet down in the Bering Sea north of Kiska Island at the tip of the Aleutian Islands. On October 1, 2008, the U.S. Navy announced that the sunken vessel is the World War II submarine USS Grunion (SS-216).
His 2nd Navy Commendation Medal Citation reads:
For meritorious conduct as a member of the crew of the U.S.S. GRUNION which destroyed three enemy destroyers while engaged in a war patrol in enemy controlled waters. Despite severe and persistent anti-submarine measures resulting from these three successful attacks, the GRUNION was brought safely through the counter attacks and continued an aggressive war patrol. As a member of the crew of the GRUNION, your performance of duty was an important and material contribution to the prosecution of this war.