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After the Dorchester slipped beneath the waves on 3 February 1943, the USCGC Escanaba and other Coast Guard vessels rescued dozens of survivors from the doomed Army troopship.

After the Dorchester slipped beneath the waves on 3 February 1943, the USCGC Escanaba and other Coast Guard vessels rescued dozens of survivors from the doomed Army troopship.

COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine  On Thursday, Feb. 3rd, 2022, Wreaths Across America will honor the American heroes known as “The Four Chaplains” with a special Facebook live event at 12pm EST, from the Balsam Valley Chapel and tip lands located in Downeast Maine.

On January 23, 1943, the U.S.A.T. Dorchester left New York harbor bound for Greenland carrying over 900 officers, servicemen and civilian workers. The ship was a coastal passenger steamship requisitioned and operated by the War Shipping Administration (WSA) for wartime use as a troop ship. The ship was transiting the Labrador Sea when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat (U-233) on February 3, 1943. The ship sank and 675 people on board lost their lives. Amidst the chaos to save 230 lives four chaplains guided soldiers trapped below deck to escape hatches and gave away their life jackets to save others on that fateful day. When the chaplains had done all they could, they linked arms to pray and sing hymns as the Dorchester slipped beneath the waves.

In this ceremony, participants will hear messages and stories about Lt. George L. Fox (Methodist), Lt. Alexander D. Goode (Jewish), Lt. Clark V. Poling (Dutch Reformed) and Lt. John P. Washington (Roman Catholic), “The Four Chaplains.” As well as remembrances for the crew of the U.S.A.T. Dorchester and African American Coast Guardsman Charles Walter David Jr., who jumped into icy Greenland waters, from a nearby rescue ship, to save two men from drowning and then continuing to help rescue a total of 93 survivors from lifeboats. After his heroic acts, 54 days later Charles Walter David Jr., succumbed to pneumonia stemming from those icy waters.

  • A Memorial for the Four Chaplains resides at Memorial, public park in Dorchester, Wisconsin.
  • To watch live on Facebook, or share the ceremony on Feb. 3, at noon ET, use this link.
  • To listen live on Wreaths Across America Radio, click here.
  • To learn more about the Four Chaplains and the U.S.A.T. Dorchester, follow this link.
  • To learn more about Coast Guardsman Charles Walter David Jr., follow this link.

Replica dog tags of the Four Chaplains and Guardsman Charles Walter David Jr. hang on trees located on the Tip-land in Maine as part of the Wreaths Across America Remembrance Tree program. This FREE program (open to all fallen veterans and their families) hangs replica dog tags on the branches of live balsam trees used to make veterans wreaths to honor the lives, duty and commitment of fallen soldiers and create a living memorial to inspire a new generation to make a positive impact. 

You can sponsor a wreath for $15 at https://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org. Each sponsorship goes toward a live, balsam veteran’s wreath that will be placed on the headstone of an American hero as we endeavor to honor all veterans laid to rest on Saturday, December 17, 2022, as part of National Wreaths Across America Day. 

Wreaths Across America

About Wreaths Across America

Wreaths Across America is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization founded to continue and expand the annual wreath-laying ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery begun by Maine businessman Morrill Worcester in 1992. The organization’s mission – Remember, Honor, Teach – is carried out in part each year by coordinating wreath-laying ceremonies in December at Arlington, as well as at thousands of veterans’ cemeteries and other locations in all 50 states and beyond. 

For more information or to sponsor a wreath please visit www.wreathsacrossamerica.org.

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