Glendale "Bugler": The Four Chaplains - In Memory

Sixty years ago, on February 3, 1943, 672 men were killed when a German submarine off the coast of Greenland torpedoed the U.S.S. Dorchester. The vessel was one of three ships in a convoy escorting servicemen to an American base in Greenland. The ship was hit midsection and sank about 18 minutes later. The ship's four chaplains - one rabbi, one priest, and two ministers - were among the first on deck, calming the men, distributing life vests, and, in that brief period of time, they helped 230 safely depart the ship. When the jackets ran out, the four chaplains removed their own life jackets and, without concern for race or religion, placed them on waiting men. The chaplains then gathered the remaining men on deck to pray and sing. As the ship plunged into the icy sea, survivors in lifeboats could see the four chaplains on deck, arms linked, in common prayer. The four heroic chaplains were Lt. Alexander Goode (Jewish), Lt. John Washington (Catholic), Lt. George Fox (Episcopal), and Lt. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed).

In 1960, the United States Congress created a special Congressional Medal of Valor that was awarded to the chaplains' next of kin.

In 1997, The Immortal Chaplains Foundation was formed by family members of the chaplains, survivors of the troopship Dorchester and U-boat U-223, and other caring friends to honor their memory, tell their story, and present The Immortal Chaplains Prize for Humanity "honoring those who risked all to protect others of a different faith or ethnic origin."

Recipients of The Immortal Chaplains Prize for Humanity:

1999

Amy Biehl - An American Fulbright Scholar who gave her life in the struggle against Apartheid in South Africa in 1989.

Charles W. David - African American Coast Guardsman who gave his life to rescue others from the sinking troopship Dorchester in 1943.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu - Anglican Archbishop of South Africa who risked his life daily to free all South Africans and oppressed people of many nations.

2000

Paul Rusesabagina - Although a member of the majority Hutu in Rwanda, he risked all to save 1,000 of the minority Tutsi in the genocide of 1994.

Chiune Sugihara - Consul General for Japan in Lithuania in 1940, who risked all (against orders) to write 6,000 visas for Jews escaping Nazi extermination.

2001

Pastor Martin Niemoeller - German Lutheran minister who defied Hitler face to face for persecution of Jews and others. He was imprisoned for seven years in concentration camps.

Hugh C. Thompson, Jr. - U.S. helicopter pilot in Vietnam who, on March 16, 1968, halted the further massacre of Vietnamese civilians at My Lai.

2002

Omri Al Jadah - Palestinian known for his compassion to all and who gave his life to save a drowning Jewish child in August 2000.

Father Michael Judge, OFM - Chaplain to the NYC Fire Department who refused to leave while praying over a dying fireman at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

2003

Villagers of the Region Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, France - Inspired by their Huguenot Pastors' appeal to use "Weapons of the Spirit" to fight Nazi inhumanity, they hid and saved some 5,000 refugees (mostly Jewish) from deportation and extermination during the period 1940-1945.

The Service Volunteers of World War II - Ordinary men and women who demonstrated extraordinary feats of compassion for others in the face of infamy. They drove ambulances, bore arms, pounded rivets into airplanes, or provided non-combative services of support.

Relevant websites:

If you would like more information about The Immortal Chaplains Foundation, find it at www.ImmortalChaplains.org.

The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps is the oldest of the American military chaplaincies. With more than 2,500 Active duty, Army Reserve, and National Guard chaplains from 120 faith groups serving, it is the largest military chaplaincy in the world. Find them at chaplain.goarmy.com.

Back to Glendale "Bugler" Index

Webmaster Note: Glendale put out a great internet newsletter, The Bugler. It provided interesting tips, historical information and veterans stories. We have been granted permission to reprint them here. If you are interested in other items from them or wish to visit their site, they can be found at www.paradestore.com.