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The Four Chaplains’ Service is an annual service to commemorate the selfless acts of four chaplains on the early morning hours of February 3, 1943. This year Huntingdon American Legion Post 47 will hold the Memorial Service on Saturday, February 10, 2024 at the Carroll County Civic Center at 5 p.m. The Carroll County Civic Center is located at 201 Mustang Drive, Huntingdon.
In the early morning hours of February 3, 1943, as the U.S. transport ship USAT Dorchester sank beneath the waves of the chilly Labrador Sea, troops who managed to make it onto lifeboats reported a curious sight: four men standing on the deck of the sinking ship, arms linked in prayer. The men wore no life vests; they had given those away to other soldiers. One had given his gloves to another man, according to The Army Historical Foundation. These were “The Four Chaplains,” who courageously gave their lives as they offered aid and comfort to the soldiers on the ship, which was bound for Greenland before it was struck by torpedoes from a German U-boat U-233.
The chaplains were Lt. George Fox (Methodist), Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish, Lt. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed, and Lt. John P. Washington (Roman Catholic).
The Dorchester set sail from New York City to Greenland on Jan. 23, 1943. The U.S. had signed an agreement with Denmark in 1941 pledging to defend Greenland from invasion during World War II, according to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. The more than 900 men on the Dorchester were on their way to replace personnel on the Greenland bases when the ship was hit. Despite their differing faiths, the four chaplains were drawn to military service following the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor. As the Dorchester went down, the four men helped guide soldiers to escape hatches and lifeboats, with each sacrificing his life vest to another soldier.