THE USAT DORCHESTER A PowerPoint presentation by Mike Swiren and Esther Lui
Students will learn about the USAT Dorchester, its mission, and the legendary bravery of the Four Chaplains.
The Story of the USAT Dorchester
The USAT Dorchester was one of the Navy’s smallest ships, but its legacy lives on through the stories of the Four Chaplains, Rabbi Alex Goode, Minister George Fox, Minister Clark Poling, and Priest John Washington. Their heroics will truly stand the test of time. We hope you learn and continue to pass on this story.
Outdated luxury liner converted into a Army transportation ship
Renamed the USAT Dorchester
Small (compared to other ships)
Conditions on board were cramped
Sent to build a secret air base in Greenland
Goal: Make it safely to Newfoundland for supplies
Timeline of Events
February 2, 1943 – Dorchester leaves St. Johns, Newfoundland
February 3, 1943 – 12:55 am - Dorchester struck by torpedo
February 3, 1943 – 1:15 am – the Dorchester sinks
What is a Chaplain?
A religious leader who serves a group of people who are unable to go to church
Provides spiritual and pastoral support for the soldiers and holds religious services on the field or at sea
The Four Chaplains
They all met each other at Chaplain’s School at Harvard University in November 1942.
Brought together by a common cause: to serve the Nation during World War II.
Rabbi Alexander Goode
Jewish rabbi from Pennsylvania
Joined the National Guard
Wanted to serve in the Navy’s Chaplain Corps, but wasn’t initially accepted
Reverend George Fox
Medical corps assistant in WWI
Earned the Silver Star and Purple Heart awards
"I've got to go. I know from experience what our boys are about to face. They need me."
Reverend Clark Poling
Dutch Reform pastor from Ohio
Followed the footsteps of his father, who served as a chaplain in WWI
"I'm not going to hide behind the church in some safe office out of the firing line."
Father John Washington
Irish immigrant living in New Jersey
Was a former street gang leader as a teenager
Organized sports teams as a way to help the young kids in the neighborhood
Most soldiers were not wearing life jackets at the time of the torpedo hit.
After reserve life jackets were gone, the Chaplains gave their own jackets to other soldiers.
The Four Chaplains themselves perished when the USAT Dorchester sank.
Chaplain’s Medal for Heroism – special medal of honor awarded posthumously
Although the medal was ratified by Congress, it has only been given out to the Chaplains
They were also posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and the Distinguished Service Cross
Medals The Purple Heart The Distinguis hed Service C ross