'Round the Square for Feb. 3, 2015 - The Bradford Era: News

FOUR CHAPLAINS: Tim Vecellio of Lewis Run contacted us to let us know this is the anniversary of the day four U.S. Army chaplains died saving others from a sinking ship during World War II.

Tim writes, My father, Richard Vecellio, veteran of the Korean War era and former resident, CPO Alfred Riznor USCG Retired, related the heroic story of the Four Chaplains to me years ago in the 1970s.

He passed along an article on the event, from which we are relating the story.

According to the article, the USAT Dorchester, a civilian cruise ship converted for military service during the war, was part of a three-ship convoy that left New York and set sail for Greenland on Jan. 23, 1943. The ships were escorted by three Coast Guard cutters.

Around 12:55 a.m. Feb. 3, 1943, a German submarine torpedoed the Dorchester near Newfoundland, disabling the electrical system and trapping many men in the dark below decks.

Turning the chaotic situation into an organized rescue were four chaplains, all first lieutenants: the Rev. George L. Fox, a Methodist minister; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode; the Rev. John P. Washington, a Roman Catholic priest; and the Rev. Clark V. Poling, a minister of the Reformed Church in America.

The chaplains organized the ships evacuation, helping calm the panicked and wounded passengers and getting them out of harms way by helping them onto lifeboats.

When all the life jackets were handed out, four men took off their own life jackets and gave them to others who did not have one. As t....

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