On February 3, 1943, at 12:55am, the USAT Dorchester, an American troopship, that was sailing through the icy waters of the Labrador Sea to transport 902 servicemen from Newfoundland to Greenland, was struck by a German torpedo, causing it to quickly sink.
Only 230 of the 902 men on board survived the horrible attack — making it one of the deadliest naval attacks towards the United States during World War II.
Different but Far from Divided
Among the troops that did not survive were four very different chaplains who put their differences aside to serve their unit, their country, and God.
These chaplains were:
- Alex Goode, a Jewish Rabbi from Brooklyn, New York
- John Washington, a Catholic priest from Newark, New Jersey
- George Fox, a Methodist minister from Lewistown, Pennsylvania
- Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed minister from Columbus, Ohio
It is said that these four chaplains remained calm throughout the chaos of the attack and prayed with Soldiers to calm them down during the last moments of many of their lives.
They then handed out life vests to Soldiers and, when all life vests were taken, gave up their own.
Survivors say when they last saw the four chaplains, they were on the deck of the quickly sinking USAT Dorchester, with their arms locked, praying and singing songs of worship.
In 1943, each of these four heroes were rightfully awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross for their incredible service to their fellow servicemen, our military and the people of the United States.
Join us in honoring these brave individuals and all the servicemen aboard the USAT Dorchester that gave their lives to fight for freedom across the world.