Honoring the four WWII hero chaplains

Legion, Scouts pay tribute

CHAMPION — Local American Legion members and Boy Scouts came together to pay tribute to four chaplains who sacrificed their own lives to save others 76 years ago on the USS Dorchester.

The memorial for the four chaplains was held at Wildare United Methodist Church.

Chuck Sayers, commander of American Legion Post 700 in Howland, said the event is held nationwide on the first Sunday in February to remember the sacrifices of chaplains George L. Fox, Alexander D. Goode, John P. Washington and Clark V. Poling, who were all lieutenants.

“These four chaplains made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up their life jackets on the sinking USS Dorchester in the North Atlantic so that others might live. This was a selfless sacrifice,” he said.

Chaplain David Luther of McKinley Community Church in Howland said: “Across the nation people come together to remember the sacrifice these for chaplains made in addition to the hundreds of thousands of others who sacrificed their lives for others.”

Boy Scout Troops 28 and 122 from Howland Community Church and Howland United Methodist Church took part in a re-enactment of people giving their life jackets to others.

The USS Dorchester was torpedoed on Feb. 3, 1943, the four chaplains, who were of different faiths, gave their life jackets to four frightened young men nearby who did not have life jackets.

Luther said the four chaplains had all begun serving as chaplains after Pearl Harbor.

He said the greatest love is to lay down one’s life for a friend.

“The four chaplains we recognize today epitomize the many who in times of great crisis lay down their lives for one another. The four chaplains died so others could live. Jesus died so others could have life,” he said.

Darlene Freer, adjutant for the legion, said the chaplains were seen arm in arm on the ship’s deck offering prayers.

Pastor Jody Baker of Wildare United Methodist Church said the event allows people to remember the sacrifices people have made for others.

“These four men gave their lives for others just as Jesus and others have given their lives for others. God has given each of us a life vest to share with others, which is a reminder of the beautiful gift and sacrifice of his love,” Baker said.