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Port St. Lucie Will Hold a Memorial Service Sunday to Honor the Four Chaplains Who Died in the Sinking of the Dorchester, 81 Years Ago

City of Port St. Lucie

Port St. Lucie Wednesday January 31, 2024: The City of Port St. Lucie is inviting the public to attend a memorial service this Sunday, February 4, to honor the four chaplains who died in the sinking of the Dorchester. It will take place at 3 p.m. at the Grace Emmanuel Church on 707 Kitterman Road in Port St. Lucie.

Guest speakers at the event will include retired Army Lt. Col. Bobbie Williams from the Treasure Coast Chapter of the Retired Military Officers Association of America, Treasure Coast Chapter. The ceremony will also include a “God Bless America” performance, the national anthem, a resounding of taps and more. 

John Ramos, a U.S. Army veteran, will lead the national anthem. Notable figures attending the service include Port St. Lucie Councilman David Pickett, a retired Sgt. 1st Class and member of the Retired U.S. Army Gulf, Iraq and the Afghanistan Veterans Association.

The Sinking of the Dorchester

It was the S.S. Dorchester, a coastal passenger steamship in January 1942 when it was requisitioned for use by the Army as a troop transport ship. Then it became the U.S.A.T. Dorchester which stands for U.S. Army Transport. The S. S. stands for steam ship.

During the early morning hours of February 3, 1943, the Dorchester was torpedoed by a German submarine 80 miles south of Greenland. It sank at the bow in the cold waters of the north Atlantic within 20 minutes. 674 of the 904 aboard died. It was the worst single loss of American personnel of any American convoy during World War II.

Four U.S. Army Chaplins aboard gave up their life jackets, and their lives, to save others. It is said that the Chaplins locked hands and prayed together as the ship sank.

The four chaplains were Father John P. Washington, a Catholic priest from Kerny, New Jersey; Rabbi Alexander D. Goode, a native of York, Pennsylvania; Clark V. Poling, a minister from Schenectady, New York; and George L. Fox, a decorated World War I veteran and Methodist minister from Gilman, Vermont.

In 1988, Congress established February 3 as Four Chaplains Day, and the memory of their heroism is honored in similar ceremonies across the country each year.