January 30, 2014

Four Chaplains Sunday – February 9, 2014

The Board of Clermont County Commissioners has proclaimed Sunday, February 9, 2014 as Four Chaplains Sunday, recognizing the heroic deeds of four selfless men who died in the sinking of the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, 71 years ago. On Sunday, February 9, 2014, the Clermont County Veterans Services will recognize the four chaplains during the 10:30 a.m. worship service at the First Baptist Church, located at 213 Western Avenue in New Richmond.

On that fateful morning in February 1943, the United States Army troopship, the Dorchester, was part of a convoy of three ships escorting Coast Guard cutters through the so-called “torpedo alley,” some 100 miles off the coast of Greenland. According to the website www.FourChaplains.org, the former luxury liner was carrying 902 service men, merchant seamen, and civilian workers from Newfoundland toward an American base in Greenland when it was hit by a torpedo from a German U-boat. The Dorchester began sinking rapidly. Through the pandemonium in the early morning darkness, eyewitnesses praised the efforts of the four Army Chaplains on board the ship, trying to calm the frightened, helping guide others to safety, and giving up their own lifejackets to save others. The Chaplains, two Protestant, one Catholic, and a Jewish rabbi, were reportedly the last to be seen on the ship, standing arm-in-arm, praying with the men. They, according to one historical account, brought hope in despair and light in darkness. The website stated that less than 20 minutes after the Dorchester was hit, it slipped beneath the Atlantic’s icy waters, taking the lives of around 700 men. It was the third largest loss at sea for the United States during World War II.

For more information about the Four Chaplains: http://immortalchaplains.org

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