In commemoration of the dramatic sacrifice of four armed forces chaplains during World War II, American Legion officials and clergymen from around the nation are planning special programs.
This year marks the 77th anniversary of the sinking of the U.S. troopship Dorchester and the heroism demonstrated by four valiant Chaplains who were aboard the doomed vessel.
These four — a Jewish rabbi, a Roman Catholic priest and two Protestant ministers — calmly helped to issue lifebelts to American servicemen aboard the troop transport when it was torpedoed off the coast of Greenland on Feb. 3, 1943 just before 1 a.m. When the supply of lifebelts was exhausted, the Chaplains removed their own and gave them to four soldiers, and were seen on the deck of the ship with their heads bowed in prayer, as it slipped into the icy sea.
To join in celebrating the annual event, Paul H. Hughey Post 25 in Washington Court House has arranged to visit a local church on the first Sunday in February each year since the mid 1980s.
This year officers and members of Post 25 — along with Ladies Auxiliary, S.A.L. and members of the Riders of Post 25 — are invited to attend the 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning worship service on Feb. 2 at the First Presbyterian Church at Market and Hinde streets in Washington C.H. Other local veterans’ organizations are also welcome including the VFW, Amvets, D.A.V., Veterans Service Commission and the Fayette County Honor Guard.
Gray Marshall, serving as minister at First Presbyterian Church, and other officials of the church said they are looking forward to hosting the veterans for such a special occasion.
Also over the years, proclamations honoring the Chaplains by declaring the anniversary of that fateful day in 1943 as one to be remembered has been a vital part of the Legions’ program.
Washington C.H. City Manager Joe Denen and City Council Chairman Jim Chrisman have fulfilled that goal by signing a proclamation declaring Feb. 2 as “Four Chaplains Sunday” in Washington C.H.