You are now entering the Jewish Currents archive.

February 3: The Chaplain Heroes

February 3, 2014
Four_Chaplains_stamp1Rabbi Alexander D. Goode was one of four chaplains who gave up their lives on this date in 1943 to save other soldiers when the American ship the Dorchester was sunk by a German U-boat during World War II. Ordained in 1937 by the Reform seminary in Cincinnati, and earning a Ph.D from Johns Hopkins in 1940, Goode joined the Army as a chaplain in 1941. When the Dorchester was torpedoed shortly after midnight, hundreds of soldiers rushed to the lifeboats, several of which had been damaged and were not serviceable. The four chaplains helped bring order to the deck, distributed life jackets until the supply ran out, and then gave their own to the men. Once the lifeboats were filled and lowered, the chaplains led prayers for the men who had been unable to escape the ship, which went down in less than half an hour after the torpedo struck, with 672 men still aboard. Witnesses reported seeing the four chaplains on the deck, praying with their arms linked. The other chaplains were Methodist minister George L. Fox, Roman Catholic priest John P. Washington, and Reformed Church in America minister Clark V. Poling. “As I swam away from the ship, I looked back. The flares had lighted everything. The bow came up high and she slid under. The last thing I saw, the Four Chaplains were up there praying for the safety of the men. They had done everything they could. I did not see them again. They themselves did not have a chance without their life jackets.” —Grady Clark, survivor