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USAT Dorchester

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THE USAT DORCHESTER A PowerPoint presentation by Mike Swiren and Esther Lui
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A PowerPoint presentation by Mike Swiren and Esther Lui

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• Students will learn about the USAT Dorchester, its mission, and the legendary bravery of the Four Chaplains.

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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.

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• Outdated luxury liner converted into a Army transportation ship

• Renamed the USAT Dorchester

• Small (compared to other ships)

• Conditions on board were cramped

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• Sent to build a secret air base in Greenland

• Goal: Make it safely to Newfoundland for supplies

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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Reverend George Fox

• Methodist pastor• 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."

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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."

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Father John Washington

• Catholic priest• 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

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Their Story• 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.

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• 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