Four Chaplains Day
Reported By C.Moalli
On February 3rd, we remember and celebrate the Four Chaplains Day. This day honors the heroism of U.S. Army Chaplains 1LT George L. Fox (Methodist), 1LT Alexander D. Goode (Jewish), 1LT Clark V. Poling (Dutch Reformed), and 1LT John P. Washington (Roman Catholic).
After their troop transport ship, the SS Dorchester, was torpedoed during World War II by a German submarine U-223, these four men ministered to fellow victims and gave up their life jackets so that others might live. The sudden torpedo strike and subsequent boiler explosion killed many and set confusion among survivors. Onboard were over 900 U.S. Army Soldiers, merchant sailors, and civilians traveling to Great Britain as part of the Allied war effort.
Reports are that the “Four Chaplains” calmly went around the ship, comforting the wounded and helping others to wear lifejackets and lower the lifeboats. In the chaos, they realized that there were not enough lifejackets or boats for everyone. So, they gave up their jackets, continuing to direct and encourage those trying to escape. As the Dorchester sank, survivors recall, the Four Chaplains stood arm in arm on the deck, leading the wounded in prayer as together they slipped under the waves.
These officers were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart posthumously for their selfless sacrifice and dedication to their compatriots. There were also citations for the Medal of Honor, but they were denied because the Chaplains had not served in combat. In 1948, Congress designated February 3rd “Four Chaplains Day” to highlight the examples these men set. Although, while the establishment of this memorial day had settled the question of the Medal of Honor, those who remembered 1LTs Fox, Goode, Poling, and Washington felt these men had earned something more. So, in 1961, the Department of the Army approved the posthumous award of the Four Chaplains’ Medal to each Soldier.
In memory of the brave heroes who fell, Hooah!