About the Post

Author Information

Jennifer is Co-host of The Story of Liberty Radio Broadcast, video editor and creator, blogger & Web designer for the Story of Liberty. TheStoryofLiberty.net

The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the “Immortal Chaplains.”

The Four Chaplains, also sometimes referred to as the “Immortal Chaplains,” were four United States Army chaplains who gave their lives to save other civilian and military personnel during the sinking of the troop ship USAT Dorchester on February 3, 1943, during World War II. They helped other soldiers board lifeboats and gave up their own life jackets when the supply ran out. The chaplains joined arms, said prayers, and sang hymns as they went down with the ship.
Alexander D. Goode was born in Brooklyn, New York on May 10, 1911. His father was a Rabbi and his mother, Fay had two other sons, Joseph and Moses, and a daughter, Agatha. Alex received medals at Eastern High School, Washington, DC for tennis, swimming and track. He led his class in scholarship too! He planned to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a Rabbi, but that did not keep him from having a laughing, shouting, hail-fellow-well-met boyhood with all the Protestant and Catholic boys in his neighborhood. He graduated from Eastern in 1929.

He entered the University of Cincinnati and graduated in 1934 with an A.B. degree…and then on to Hebrew Union College with a B.H. degree in 1937. He later received his Ph.D. from John Hopkins University in 1940.

Alex married his childhood sweetheart, Theresa Flax, daughter of Nathan and Rose Flax. Theresa was a niece of singer and motion picture star, Al Jolson. They were married on October 7, 1935. His first assignment as an ordained Rabbi was at a synagogue in Marion, Indiana in 1936. On July 16, 1937, he was transferred to the Beth Israel synagogue in York, Pennsylvania until mid-1942. Alex and Theresa had a daughter, Rosalie, who was born in 1939.

Rabbi Goode applied to become a chaplain with the U.S. Navy in January 1941, but he was not accepted at that time. Right after Pearl Harbor, he tried again, this time with the Army, and received an appointment on July 21, 1942. Chaplain Goode went on active duty on August 9, 1942 and he was selected for the Chaplains School at Harvard. He had courses in map reading, first aid, law, and chemical warfare. Chaplain Goode was then assigned to the 333rd Airbase Squadron in Goldsboro, North Carolina. In October 1942, he was transferred to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts and Alex was reunited with Chaplains Fox, Poling and Washington, who were classmates at Harvard.

It was January 1943 when he boarded the U.S.A.T. Dorchester in Boston and embarkation to Greenland. Chaplain Goode was killed in action on February 3, 1943 in the icy waters of the North Atlantic when the Dorchester was sunk by a German U-boat. Chaplain Goode was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross.

George L. Fox was born March 15, 1900 in Lewistown, Pennsylvania. In addition to George, he had a sister Gertrude and brothers Bert, Leo and John. When George was just 17, he left school, and with strong determination, convinced the military authorities he was 18 and joined the ambulance corps in 1917, shortly after the United States entered World War I. George was placed in the ambulance corps and shipped to Camp Newton D. Baker in Texas. On December 3, 1917, George embarked from Camp Merritt, New Jersey, and boarded the US Huron en route to France. As a medical corps assistant, he was highly decorated for bravery and was awarded the Silver Star, Purple Heart and the French Croix de Guerre.

Upon his discharge, he returned home to Altoona, completed his last year in high school, and went to work for the Guarantee Trust Company. In 1923, he entered Moody Institute in Illinois, where he married at Winona Lake, Indiana. After he withdrew from Moody, he became an itinerant preacher in the Methodist faith. A son, Wyatt Ray, was born on November 11, 1924. After several successful years, George held a student pastorate in Downs, Illinois. He entered Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington in 1929 and graduated with an A.B. degree in 1931. Again as a student pastorate in Rye, New Hampshire, he entered the Boston University School of Theology. George was ordained a Methodist minister on June 10, 1934 and graduated with a S.T.B. degree. He was appointed pastor in Waits River, Vermont. Their second child, Mary Elizabeth, was born shortly thereafter. In 1936, he accepted a pastorate in Union Village, Vermont. His next calling was in Gilman, Vermont where he joined the Walter G. Moore American Legion Post. He was later appointed state chaplain and historian for the Legion.

In mid-1942, George decided to join the Army Chaplain Service and he was appointed on July 24, 1942. He went on active duty August 8, 1942, the same day his son Wyatt enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was assigned to the Chaplains school at Harvard and then reported to the 411th Coast Artillery Battalion at Camp Davis. He was then reunited with Chaplains Goode, Poling and Washington at Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts and their fateful trip on the USAT DORCHESTER. Chaplain Fox was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross.

Clark V. Poling was born August 7, 1910 in Columbus, Ohio. He was the son of Susie Jane Vandersall of East Liberty, Ohio and Daniel A. Poling of Portland, Oregon. Clark’s siblings were Daniel, Mary and Elizabeth. Clark attended Whitney Public School in Auburndale, Massachusetts where his teachers remembered his maturity and delicate side of his nature. The Auburndale days ended when his mother died in 1918. She is buried at Greenlawn Cemetery, Uniontown, Ohio. Clark’s father was an Evangelical Minister and in 1936 was rebaptized as a Baptist minister. Reverend Daniel Poling was remarried on August 11, 1919 to Lillian Diebold Heingartner of Canton, Ohio.

Clark attended Oakwood, a Quaker high school in Poughkeepsie, New York, and was a good student and an excellent football halfback. Clark was a council member and president of the student body. In 1929, he enrolled at Hope College in Holland, Michigan and spent his last two years at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, graduating in 1933 with an A.B. degree. Clark entered Yale University’s Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut and graduated with his B.D. degree in1936. He was ordained in the Reformed Church in America and his first assignment was the First Church of Christ, New London, Connecticut. Shortly thereafter, he accepted the assignment of Pastor of the First Reformed Church in Schenectady, New York.

Clark was married to Betty Jung of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and the next year, Clark, Jr. (Corky) was born. With our country now at war with Japan, Germany and Italy, he decided to become a chaplain. Talking with his father, Dr. Daniel A. Poling, who was a chaplain in World War I, he was told that chaplains in that conflict sustained the highest mortality rate of all military personnel. Without hesitation, he was appointed on June 10, 1942 as a chaplain with the 131st Quartermaster Truck Regiment and reported to Camp Shelby, Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on June 25, 1942. Later he attended Chaplains School at Harvard with Chaplains Fox, Goode and Washington after his transfer to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts. Shortly after the U.S.A.T. Dorchester was sunk on February 3, 1943, his wife, Betty, gave birth to a daughter, Susan Elizabeth, on April 20. Chaplain Poling was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross.

John P. Washington was born in Newark, New Jersey on July 18, 1908. His parents were Frank and Mary; in addition they had daughters Mary and Anna, and sons Thomas, Francis, Leo and Edmund. In 1914, John was enrolled at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Elementary School. In those days, times were rough for a poor immigrant family, but John helped out; he took a newspaper route to help his mother with extra money. John was active in sports and he also began piano lessons. He loved music and sang in the church choir. When he entered seventh grade, he felt strongly about becoming a priest…during the previous year, he became an altar boy and his priestly destiny was in process.

John entered Seton Hall in South Orange, New Jersey to complete his high school and college courses in preparation for the priesthood. He graduated in 1931 with an A.B. degree. He entered Immaculate Conception Seminary in Darlington, New Jersey and received his minor orders on May 26, 1933. John excelled in the seminary, was a sub deacon at all the solemn masses, and later became a deacon on December 25, 1934. John was elected prefect of his class and was ordained a priest on June 15, 1935.

Father Washington’s first parish was at St. Genevieve’s in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and then he served at St. Venantius for a year. In 1938, he was assigned to St. Stephen’s in Arlington, New Jersey. Shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941, he received his appointment as a chaplain in the United States Army. Father Washington went on active duty May 9, 1942. He was named Chief of the Chaplains Reserve Pool, in Ft. Benjamin Harrison, Indiana. In June 1942, he was assigned to the 76th Infantry Division in Ft. George Meade, Maryland. In November 1942, he reported to Camp Myles Standish in Taunton, Massachusetts and met Chaplains Fox, Goode and Poling at Chaplains School at Harvard.

Father Washington boarded the U.S.A.T. Dorchester at the Embarkation Camp at Boston Harbor in January 1943 en route to Greenland. Chaplain Washington was killed in action on February 3, 1943, when the Dorchester was sunk by a German U-boat. Chaplain Washington was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Service Cross.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: