On Feb. 3, 1943, the U.S. Army transport Dorchester and 900 American troops heading to a Greenland base was sunk by a German torpedo. Aboard the ship were four chaplains of different faiths: Rev. George Fox (Methodist), Jewish Rabbi Alexander Goode, Rev. Clark Roling (Dutch Reformed), and Father John Washington (Roman Catholic). Panic set in among the men on board, many trapped below decks.
The chaplains remained a comforting and calming presence in the chaotic scene of the sinking. Witnesses recall hearing their voices among the terror. The chaplains helped distribute life jackets until those ran out, and then they gave up their own jackets to others.
Of the 902 men aboard, 230 survived and 672 perished. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts recalled seeing the four chaplains, praying on the slanting deck with their arms linked.
American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24, 2000 75th St. W., Bradenton, will commemorate that harrowing, heroic story with its special 58th annual readings by legion volunteers followed by a 21-gun rifle salute outdoors by the post's Honor Guard at the post home on Feb. 14 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
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Richard Alvarez, Post 24 Commander, said that the memorial service is free and open to the public. A free luncheon and beverages will be provided for all those in attendance.
George Staudt, American Legion Kirby Stewart Post 24 Bradenton