OXFORD – The American Legion honored the memory of four chaplains at an observance at Oxford Post 112. Ministers from local churches and a synagogue did a biographical sketch of the four chaplains during a nondenominational service to honor brotherhood as exemplified by their heroic deed.

On the evening of Feb. 1, 1943, the USS Dorchester was crowded to capacity, carrying 902 servicemen, merchant seamen and civilian workers.

On Feb. 3 at 12:55 a.m. a periscope broke the chilly Atlantic waters, and an officer aboard a German U-2 spotted the Dorchester, giving the order to fire torpedoes. The hit was decisive and deadly. In less than 27 minutes the Dorchester slipped beneath the icy waters.

Through the pandemonium, four Army chaplains, Lt. George Fox, Methodist; Lt. Alexander Goode, Jewish; Lt. John Washington, Catholic; and Lt. Clark Poling, Reformed Dutch, spread out among the soldiers. They tried to calm the frightened, tend the wounded and guide the disoriented toward safety.

When there were no more life jackets in the storage room, the chaplains removed theirs and gave them to four young men. As the ship went down, survivors in nearby rafts could see the four chaplains, arms linked, offering prayers. Of the 902 men aboard the Dorchester, 672 died.

During the service, certificates of appreciation were given for assistance to Rev. Mike Ring, Rev. Eric Hanson, Rabbi Hillel Katzir and Fr. John Gallagher. Clergy were guests of honor at a post dinner night on Feb. 12.

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