Friday, October 05, 2007

A Wonderful Story!

The Story of the Four Immortal Chaplains

A convoy of three ships and three escorting Coast Guard cutters passed through "torpedo alley" some 100 miles off the coast of Greenland at about 1 a.m. on February 3, 1943. The submarine U-223 fired three torpedoes, one of which hit the midsection of the Dorchester, a U.S. Army troopship with more than 900 men on board. Ammonia and oil were everywhere in the fast-sinking vessel and upon the freezing sea.

The four Chaplains on board, two Protestant pastors, a Catholic priest and a Jewish rabbi, were among the first on deck, calming the men and handing out life jackets. When they ran out, they took off their own and placed them on waiting soldiers without regard to faith or race. Approximately 18 minutes from the explosion, the ship went down. They were the last to be seen by witnesses; they were standing arm-in-arm on the hull of the ship, each praying in his own way for the care of the men.

Almost 700 died, making it the third largest loss at sea of its kind for the United States during World War II. The Coast Guard Cutter Tampa was able to escort the other freighters to Greenland. Meanwhile the cutters Comanche and Escanaba, disobeying orders to continue the seach for the German U-Boat, stopped to rescue 230 men from the frigid waters that night.

The four Chaplains were Father John Washington (Catholic), Reverend Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed), Rabbi Alexander Goode (Jewish) and Rev. George Fox (Methodist). These four Chaplains were later honored by the Congress and Presidents. They were recognized for their selfless acts of courage, compassion and faith. According to the First Sergeant on the ship, "They were always together, they carried their faith together."

They demonstrated throughout the voyage and in their last moments, interfaith compassion in their relationship with the men and with each other. In 1960 Congress created a special Congressional Medal of Valor, never to be repeated again, and gave it to the next of kin of the "Immortal Chaplains."

Thanks Clamdigger, Patsy, and J'MAC for bringing us this one!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow what a story. I got a golf ball sized lump in my throat reading about such selfless courage by these men of G-d.

It's been said that character is determined by what you do when no one's looking. That's very true. I would add that character's also determined by what you do when your life is on the line.

It's my guess that these men truly were men of G-d. No fake preacher or government "grief counselor" acts with such incredible selflessness when confronted with their own mortality. These brave men KNEW they were going home to be with Him.

Thanks DONAL for this wonderful and heart-warming story. It's PERFECT for the Sabbath.


6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John Washignton was from my hometown of Kearny,NJ. On the corner of Kearny Ave. and Washignton Ave. (named for the young priest) stands St. Stephens Church, I attended this church as a child and long before I did, so did John Washignton. In a corner vestibule in the church there is a plaque dedicated to ''The Four Chaplains'' . J'Mac.

9:23 AM  
Anonymous catsala said...

Thank you, Donal, for this touching post. It touched me.

How could I not know about this story? I know about it now, and I will remember.

11:27 AM  
Blogger The Merry Widow said...

I have read about them before, they showed the best of humanity tempered by G*D. They stand in opposition to the silly 'christianity' and 'judaism' displayed by leftistas who don't know HIM!
Good men, all!


1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man at his best.

Thanks for bringing this story now because we need it now .

We need to hear about courgae and heroism and tolerance and love of God and men.

You lifted my spirit with this story . Made me believe that there are enough good men around in the world for God not to want to destroy it.


7:02 PM  

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