Tuesday, February 3, 2015

This Day in Christian History: February 3

This Day in Christian History: February 3

February 3, 1943: The Story Behind Four Chaplain's Day

U.S.A.T.  Dorchester
February 3, 1943, the American Troopship U.S.A.T. Dorchester sails on its way to Greenland as part of a Navy convoy. During the early morning hours, around 12:55 a.m. a torpeedo from a German U-boat smashes into the bow of the ship. It is clear that the damage is severe as the boilers lose power leaving not even enough steam to sound the whistled command to abandon ship. There was no power to send a distress signal via radio, and no time to launch rockets to alert the escort. Only a portion of the lifeboats were able to launch, and several of them were flipped over as the passengers crammed themselves onto them.

During the midst of all this chaos, four men stood out as heroes. George L. Fox (a Methodist minister), Clark Polling (Reformed Church in America Minister),  John P. Washington (a Catholic Priest), and Alexander Goode (Jewish Rabbi) gave up their life vests so that other soldiers might be saved. The Dorchester sank from the bow in about 20 minutes. All four chaplains perished in the icy waters. Because of their heroism and bravery, Congress deemed February 3rd as "Four Chaplains Day" and the men were even commemorated by a postage stamp.
Of the 904 men aboard the Dorchester, only 230 were saved. 

To read more about the incident, read about it on wikepedia.

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