On Sun., Feb. 5, at the Cathedral of the Air, 2494 Hope Chapel Road in Lakehurst at 2 p.m, the annual Memorial Service for the Four Chaplains will take place, as well as at several American Legion Posts in New Jersey.
Every year, American Legion posts nationwide commemorate the selfless acts of the Four Chaplains on or near Feb. 3, designated Four Chaplains Day by Congress in 1948.
On Feb. 3, 1943, the United States Army Transport Dorchester tragically sunk 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), Jewish 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.