MURRELLS INLET, SC (WBTW) – The legacy of four WWII chaplains lives on another year as each soldier was honored at a memorial service at Goldfinch Funeral Home by the community, veterans, and church leaders on Monday evening.
Seventy-seven years ago The Dorchester was hit by a torpedo and began to sink, killing more than 600 of the 902 men on board. Known as the four chaplains, these four men courageously gave their lives on board the Dorchester shortly after midnight on February 3, 1943.
The chaplains saved troops as they gathered floatation devices and gave up their life jackets to men who didn’t have them. The chaplains then knelt in prayer on the deck as the ship sank.
“They put life jackets on these young boys in hopes that it would save their life. They went down with the ship praying for the souls they were saving… It’s pretty amazing,” Manager of Goldfinch Funeral Homes, Josh Campbell said.
Each soldier was a different denomination but displayed the same extraordinary courage, saving the lives of hundreds of men. “Their sacrifice demonstrated the love they have for all people, it doesn’t matter what faith you come from, what group, or who you are,” Veteran Bill Harding, said.
The four men are honored each year on February 3rd for their duty, slipping off their life jackets, and paving the way for men of all faith. “It was a tremendous act of solidarity without any questions of what’s your race, what’s your religion, what God or how do you worship God,” Campbell said. “As we think about all of our freedoms, we should realize and acknowledge the sacrifice these chaplains made, it was the supreme and ultimate sacrifice.”
Crowds of people showed up Monday evening to honor their legacy in candlelight service, patriotic songs, poems, and spiritual messages.
Veteran and chaplain, Harding, says soldiers fighting for our country today take after the action of these four men.
“You always took the worst soldier first, that was injured the worst. If it was an enemy soldier you treated them first, you always made sure you were going to take care of the person and show that concern,” Harding said.
Congress voted in 1961 to posthumously give the four chaplains a special medal of heroism. They were:
Ch. (Lt.) Alexander Goode, a Jewish rabbi
Ch. (Lt.) George Fox, a Methodist minister
Ch. (Lt.) Clark Poling, a Dutch Reformed Minister
Ch. (Lt.) John Washington, a Roman Catholic Priest