Remembering chaplains who gave their lives

On Feb. 3, 1943, the USS Dorchester, with 902 men aboard, was making its way in the cold water of the North Atlantic heading toward Greenland.

The ship was crowded and living conditions were unbearably hot; most of the men removed their life jackets contrary to orders.

A German U-boat, 223, spotted the USS Dorchester and sent several torpedoes, hitting the boiler room, exploding oil everywhere.

Captain Hans J. Danielsen ordered to abandon ship.

Four Army chaplains aboard immediately went into action, passing out life jackets to the men. (A convoy of destroyers and other ships in the area began picking up the survivors.)

As the last life jackets were dispensed, men still aboard looked at the chaplains. Immediately, the chaplains removed their jackets and reluctantly, the four soldiers took the jackets and went overboard.

The four chaplains then embraced in prayer and went down with the ship.

The four chaplains were:

The Rev. George Fox, a native of Altoona and a Methodist minister.

The Rev. Clark Poling of the reformed church of Columbus, Ohio.

The Rev. John P. Washington, a Catholic priest of Newark, N.J.

Rabbi Alexander Goode of Brooklyn, N.Y.

On Feb. 3, 2014 – 71 years later – these four men are not forgotten by the men and families of the 227 survivors of the USS Dorchester.

It would be a great gesture when attending church services of your persuasion to remember these great men.

These men were awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously. The First Baptist Church of Fort Lauderdale conducts a special service honoring these men each year.

Many men and women have performed acts of valor, but to give up one’s life jacket for another is above and beyond the call of duty.

God bless these men.

Frank Benfatta