The Four Chaplains 
Of World War II

Rabbi Alexander Goode
Reverend George L. Fox
Reverend Clark V. Polling
Father John P. Washington

During World War II some 8,000 Army chaplains dedicated their lives and service to the fighting men of The Greatest Generation.  Though these chaplains earned 2,453 high military awards for their valor, none received the Medal of Honor.  Four of the seventy-seven who gave their lives in service received one of the most unusual and distinct medals in history.  Ordered by special Congressional action, its intent was to carry the same weight and prestige as the Medal of Honor.  It is known simply as The Four Chaplains Medal, and calls to memory four men of God, one Jewish, one Catholic, and two Protestant, who overcame the boundaries of denomination to become brothers serving the same Father.


Early on the morning of February 3, 1943 a German submarine torpedoed the USAT Dorchester, an American troop transport ship, in the frigid Atlantic waters near Greenland.  In the fearful 27 minutes before the Dorchester sank beneath the waves, the four brave chaplains brought order in chaos, directing soldiers to the decks and loading them in life rafts.  When the last of the life jackets had been dispersed, the four chaplains removed their own life vests and placed them on men who had none.

When seen for the last time by the men who had reached the life boats, the Four Chaplains stood braced against the railing of the sinking ship--arms linked and singing praises to their Father. 

Courtesy of

Page 11



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