Four Chaplains Day 2019 commemorates the unwavering devotion of four men who, while serving during World War II, gave the ultimate sacrifice in order to save others.
3 February 1943, as the U.S.A.T. Dorchester made its way from Newfoundland to an American base in Greenland, encountered a torpedo from a German submarine. Loaded to capacity with 921 service men, merchant seamen, and civilian workers, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester began its descent into the water. Chaos ensued as some made their way into lifeboats. Others were pitched into the freezing waters that would rapidly take their lives.
The four chaplains, representing four different faith backgrounds, silently accepted a higher calling. They immediately began helping the wounded and ushering dazed men into lifeboats. Once they finished handing out all the stored life vests, they each took off their own and gave it to the next man in line. Thus they sealed their fate and their faith.
Of the 921 on board, only 227 survived.* Many of the survivors, who recounted the horrific events of that day, stated that the four chaplains were last seen linked arm-in-arm, in prayer, as they valiantly gave their lives in the service to others.
On Four Chaplains Day 2019, we honor and remember the 921 souls on board, their families, and the four chaplains who worked tirelessly to save others..
The Four Chaplains
Lt. George L. Fox
Lt. Alexander D. Goode
Lt. John P. Washington
Lt. Clark V. Poling
Men no longer separated by the customs of their faith,
but united in their calling to serve a higher power.
Four Chaplains Day 2019 Sources
- * USAT Dorchester Files: Summery of Survivor Statements, Gunnery Officer Report, Armed Guard Roster
- Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation
- PenLive.com (YouTube video)