On Sunday, February 5, the Middlesex County Council, American Legion together with Malden Post 69 and Medford Post 45 will conduct a ceremony to honor and remember the four chaplains who sacrificed their lives to save others. This is the 79th anniversary of the sinking of the United States Army Transport Dorchester and the selfless acts of four Army chaplains aboard.
The Dorchester tragically sank on Feb. 3, 1943, while crossing the North Atlantic, transporting troops to an American base in Greenland. A German U-boat fired a torpedo that struck the Dorchester, killing 672 of the 902 officers and enlisted men, merchant seamen and civilian workers aboard. Many of those survivors owe their lives to the courage and leadership exhibited by four chaplains of different faiths, who, in sacrificing their lives, created a unique legacy of brotherhood. As soldiers rushed to lifeboats, Reverend George Fox (Methodist), Rabbi Alexander Goode, Reverend Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed) and Father John Washington (Roman Catholic) comforted the wounded and directed others to safety. One survivor watched the chaplains distribute life jackets, and when they ran out, they removed theirs and gave them to four young men. As the Dorchester sank, the chaplains were seen linked arm in arm, praying.
American Legion posts nationwide remember Four Chaplains Day with memorial services that pay tribute to the courageous chaplains and the brave young men who lost their lives on that fateful night. This year the service will be held at 2:00 p.m. at St. Raphael Church (512 High St. in Medford, Mass.). For information call George Sahady at 781-324-9570.