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Heroes You Should Know: The Four Chaplains of the U.S.S. Dorchester

Clark Poling (a Dutch Reformed minister), George Fox (a Methodist minister), Alexander Goode (a Jewish rabbi), and John Washington (a Catholic priest) became fast friends in 1942 while attending a training school for Chaplains at Harvard College.  In January 1943 all four men embarked for England together on the Dorchester, a converted transport ship carrying 900 sailors.  In the early morning hours of February 3rd, the Dorchester was torpedoed by a German submarine and immediately began to sink in the frigid waters of the north Atlantic, off the coast of Newfoundland.  The four chaplains worked as a team to try and get the soldiers into life jackets and onto lifeboats.  When the life jackets ran out, the four chaplains took theirs off and gave them to soldiers waiting, but kept working to get the men off the ship.   Within 27 minutes of being hit, the Dorchester sank, carrying 672 men down with it.  It was reported by survivors that the four chaplains were last seen together on the deck, arms linked, singing hymns and praying as the ship went down.    On December 19, 1944, all four chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross. In 1988, February 3 was established by a unanimous act of Congress as "Four Chaplains Day.” Poling, Fox, Goode, and Washington---men of God who served in life and death as examples of love.    They are heroes you should know.  And I’m Dr. Ross Porter.

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