The Dorchester Four
Recently a listener told me the story of the Dorchester four. I didn’t recall it and share it here because it’s a story that should NEVER die! On February 3, 1943 the Army transport ship Dorchester was torpedoed by the Germans in the North Atlantic. There were 902 soldiers and others on board. 230 were rescued. Four chaplains of different faiths were there. George Fox, Alexander Goode, Clark Poling and John Washington. One was a Methodist, another a Jewish rabbi, a Reformed Church in America minister and a Roman Catholic priest. There weren’t enough life jackets aboard the ship for all those on board and these four men gave up theirs. As scores and scores of people were leaving the ship in life rafts or swimming away, they reported when looking back seeing these four locked arm in arm and singing hymns and praying as the ship was going down. In 1988 the U.S. Congress designated February 3 “Four Chaplains Day.” Better late than never I guess. When I heard this story it reminded me of John 15:13 in the Holy Bible, King James version. “Greater love hath no man than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” I dare say a greater love is one where a man lays down his life for total strangers. On December 19, 1944 all four Chaplains were posthumously awarded Purple Hearts and Distinguished Service Crosses. Fox was 43, Goode 32, Poling 33 and Washington 35 years of age. They met just days before. What a great example of men from differing faiths banding together for a common cause. They will know we are christians by our love. Pictured left to right are Clark Poling, George Fox, John Washington and Alexander Goode. History teachers please share this with your students in honor of this historic event.