The Four Chaplains: Lasting Legacy of the Sacrifice

 

During World War II, a U.S. ship named the Dorchester was crowded to capacity. The ship carried 902 service men, merchant seaman, and civilian workers. The ship was moving across the icy waters from Newfoundland toward an American base in Greenland. The 5,649-ton Dorchester was once a luxury coastal liner. This ship had been converted into an Army transport. Hans J. Danielson, the shipís captain, was concerned and cautious that night. Earlier an enemy submarine had been detected by sonar. The captain knew he was in dangerous waters. German U-boats were constantly prowling these vital sea-lanes. Several ships had already been blasted and sunk.

 

A German submarine torpedoed the Dorchester on February 3, 1943, at 12:55 a.m. The torpedo knocked out the Dorchesterís electrical system. The ship was dark. Panic set in among the men on board. The Four Chaplains sought to calm the men. They organized an orderly evacuation of the ship. They guided wounded men to safety.


The Four Chaplains helped other soldiers board lifeboats. They gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The Chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship. These four United States Army chaplains gave their lives to save other soldiers. The Four Chaplains are an example of courage, selflessness, dedication, and sacrifice. They were:

 

Chaplain Alexander D. Goode (Jewish)

Chaplain John P. Washington (Roman Catholic)

Chaplain George L. Fox (Protestant)

Chaplain Clark V. Poling (Protestant)

 

 

Chaplain George L. Fox
Chaplain George L. Fox

Chaplain Alexander D. Goode
Chaplain Alexander D. Goode

Chaplain Clarke V. Poling
Chaplain Clarke V. Poling

Chaplain John P. Washington
Chaplain John P. Washington