No Greater Glory...The Saga Of The Four Chaplains

The subject of this month’s column does not focus on a Hometown Hero, but rather on an account of events that epitomize the act of Heroism. The story of “The Four Chaplains” is paid tribute to by many Veteran and religious organizations on the first Sunday of February. It is a story that deserves special tribute because there can be no greater act of heroism than what took place in the North Atlantic on February 3, 1943, on board the USAT Dorchester, a troop transport ship.

The four chaplains were a group of Army chaplains who met at the Army Chaplains School at Harvard University and became friends. They boarded the Dorchester in January 1943, along with about 900 other passengers and crew, bound for Greenland. The Ship was part of a convoy escorted by 3 Coast Guard cutters. On the night of February 2, the convoy was nearing its destination when it was attacked by a German submarine, U-223, which fired a torpedo that hit the Dorchester’s engine room. The ship began to sink rapidly, and many of the lifeboats were damaged or inaccessible. The four chaplains helped the other soldiers board the remaining lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. They also comforted the wounded and sang hymns and prayed with all. As the ship went down, they were still seen on the deck arm in arm singing hymns and praying.

They were among the 672 men who perished that night. Only 230 survived the ordeal. There would have been only 226 had 4 of them not received the life jackets from each of the four chaplains.

The four chaplains were hailed as heroes and martyrs by the public and the media. They received posthumous awards and honors, including the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, and a special Four Chaplains’ Medal authorized by Congress. They also inspired many memorials, monuments, stamps, books, films, and songs. Their story is considered one of the finest examples of interfaith cooperation and selfless sacrifice in American History.

The Four Chaplains were:

  • George L Fox a Methodist Minister and WW1 vet,
  • Alexander D. Goode a Jewish Rabbi,
  • John P. Washington, a Catholic priest,
  • Clark V. Poling, a Reformed Church in America minister. 

Note: If you’re a senior veteran over 50, you are invited to join us at the next meetup of the “Parma Area Senior Veterans” on Wednesday February 28th at 1pm at the Donna Smallwood Activity Center. Special guest speakers, door prizes, raffle, snacks and refreshments. Also, Mark your calendars for a special Viet Nam Veterans Day Tribute on March 27th.

For info on this group: Email or call or text 440-263-0507

Tony Kessler

Founder and Administrator of Parma Area Senior Veterans

Past Commander of American Legion Post 572 in Parma Ohio

Executive Board Member of "We are Parma Proud"

Volume 16, Issue 2, Posted 5:03 PM, 02.01.2024