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    Pa. ANG chapel staff reveres actions of The Four Chaplains during 75th anniversary

    Pa. ANG chapel staff reveres actions of The Four Chaplains during 75th anniversary

    Photo By Master Sgt. Chris Botzum | Dating back to 1946, the comic book, Chaplains at War, tells the story of the four...... read more read more



    Story by Master Sgt. Chris Botzum 

    111th Attack Wing

    Past midnight on Feb. 3, 1943, the periscope of a German U-boat breaches the waves of the frigid North Atlantic waters near Greenland. Lit only by a waning crescent moon, its intended prey is a convoy of transport ships escorted by Coast Guard Cutters.

    Torpedoes fired. The U.S. Army Transport ship, Dorchester, was struck mid-ship, well below its waterline. Rapidly taking on water, the order was given by the Captain to abandon ship.

    More than 900 men aboard scrambled in the darkness, Soldiers clamored for life vest, life rafts and direction. Among these men were four chaplains: Army Lts. George Fox, Alexander Goode, John Washington and Clark Poling, each of differing religious practices.

    Providing comfort to the frightened, direction to the confused and spiritual guidance to the pleading, the chaplains surrendered their own floatation devices. And in less than 30 minutes, the ship succumbed to the sea, along with the nearly 700 men – included the chaplains.

    Paying honors and to learn more about the events of that day, 111th Attack Wing Religious Support Team from Horsham Air Guard Station, Pa., visited the Chapel of the Four Chaplains at the Philadelphia Naval Yard, here on Jan. 26.

    “It’s quite humbling to be here in the chapel that memorializes and remembers The Four Chaplains,” said 111th ATKW Chaplain Capt. Tony Repic. “They gave their lives for others.”

    Christine Beady, Chapel of the Four Chaplains executive director, provided a tailored-made tour of the facility.

    “They were lost at sea and there’s no cemetery; there’s no headstone to visit other than this building and those plaques,” Beady said.
    “Once the Dorchester was hit, the chaplains started handing out life vests. When the last vest was given, they turned, and in unison, took their four vests off and gave them to the next four Soldiers in line.”

    As the vessel descended into the shadowy waters, the chaplains locked arms and began praying to calm their fellow Soldiers, according to survivor accounts. The men of faith perished along with the ship.

    A dedication to sacrifice is the significant story of The Four Chaplains. They stood together as one during a time when they could have easily saved their own lives.

    “When the ship was sinking they were willing to hand over their life jackets. If we’d be willing to do just a little bit of that in the difficult moments of lives for our Airman, then I think we’ll have done our job,” Repic said.

    Guided by Beady, the chaplain team of the 111th ATKW, Lt. Col. Jon Boulet, Capt. Tony Michael and 1st Lt. Josh Vander Stel, walked in amazement through the chapel. The religious team heard the story and gazed at artifacts of this historic memorial located so close to their homes.

    Since service before self is a core value of every Airman, the story of these brave spiritual leaders can be shared as a lesson that selflessness can be realized in many ways.

    To learn more about The Four Chaplains, visit http://www.fourchaplains.org or visit the chapel located at 1201 Constitution Ave., The Navy Yard-Building 649, Philadelphia, Pa, 19112.



    Date Taken: 02.02.2018
    Date Posted: 02.03.2018 11:46
    Story ID: 264547

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