American Legion archives painting by Dudley Summers

Four Chaplains memorial services, Feb. 6

On Feb. 3, 1943, the United States Army Transport Dorchester was bound for an American base in Greenland as it pushed through the frigid North Atlantic waters with 902 servicemen aboard. But the ship did not arrive at its destination — a German U-boat fired a torpedo that struck the Dorchester’s starboard side and exploded in the boiler room. Within 20 minutes the ship sank and 668 men perished, along with four chaplains of different faiths: Reverend George Fox (Methodist), Jewish Rabbi Alexander Goode, Reverend Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed) and Father John Washington (Roman Catholic).

The four chaplains put the lives of others before their own by directing frightened servicemembers to lifeboats, distributing life jackets, and putting their own life jackets on young soldiers.

Because of their bravery, every year, American Legion posts nationwide remember Four Chaplains Day with memorial services. Services this year will be held on Sunday, Feb. 6.

To request information on how to conduct a Four Chaplains Memorial Service, contact Michael Novak ( of the Americanism and Children & Youth Division at (317) 630-1212.