CLINTON-Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank is proud to join members of Anderson County American Legion Post 172 to commemorate the actions of four U.S. Army chaplains during World War II.
Frank, on Thursday, issued a proclamation designating Sunday, February 6, 2022, as Four Chaplains Sunday in Anderson County. The designation honors the actions of Reverend George L. Fox of the Methodist faith, Jewish Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, Father John P. Washington of the Catholic faith, and Reverend Clark V. Poling from the Dutch Reformed Church.
“I am very thankful for American Legion Post 172 for their efforts to help us come together as a community in grateful recognition of the selfless and courageous service of the Four Chaplains. I also commend American Legion Post 172 for the many valuable programs and activities they host, sponsor or participate in each month,” Frank said.
Legion posts and others around the United States honor these four men each year with a variety of services and programs.
In the early morning hours of February 3, 1943, an enemy torpedo struck the U.S. Army Transport Dorchester as it sailed across the Northern Atlantic, just 150 miles away from its destination at an American base in Greenland. The transport carried 902 officers and enlisted men, as well as merchant seamen and civilian workers, according to Four Chaplains Memorial Foundation.
As the Dorchester took on water, the four Army chaplains spread out among the men – calming the frightened, tending the wounded, and guiding the disoriented toward safety. Once on deck, the chaplains, who all held the rank of Lieutenant, opened a storage locker and began distributing life jackets. When there were no more life jackets available, the chaplains removed their own life jackets and gave them to four frightened young men.
Of the 902 men aboard the Dorchester, only 230 survived. Survivors recalled watching from life rafts nearby as the ship sank; the four chaplains could be seen – with their arms linked and bracing themselves against the slanting deck – singing hymns and praying.
The four chaplains each were honored posthumously with the Distinguished Service Cross and Purple Heart presented on December 19, 1944. Congress also attempted to confer the Medal of Honor but was blocked by the stringent requirements of heroism performed under fire. Congress designated Four Chaplains Day in 1948, and it authorized a one-time posthumous Special Medal for Heroism, awarded by President Eisenhower on January 18, 1961.