The Corner

Dorchester Anniversary

While Americans whine about paper cuts and stubbed toes, it’s worth noting that today marks the 61st anniversary of the sinking of the USAT Dorchester, a troop transport ship attacked by a German U-boat as its convoy sailed to Greenland from Newfoundland. Some 672 men died that night, making it one of the worst U.S. maritime disasters ever. Amidst the horror that night, some humane and utterly selfless things happened. Such as the actions of the Escanaba and the Comanche, two US Coast Guard cutters whose captains defied regulations (requiring pursuit attacking submarines) and instead rescued nearly 230 men from the freezing Atlantic. And more noteworthy, of course, were the actions of the four Army chaplains sailing on the Dorchester — Protestant ministers George L. Fox and Clark V. Poling, Catholic priest John P. Washington, and rabbi Alexander D. Goode — who calmed the men as the ship sank, tended to the wounded, and handed out lifejackets. When all were gone, the chaplains gave theirs to four frightened men, and then, their fate certain, died preaching courage to the floating men. RIP.

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